Noelle Drake is glad her The Bachelor journey ended the way it did.

The 26-year-old photographer and actress from Loveland, CO failed to receive a rose from Matt Grant during The Bachelor: London Calling's Monday night broadcast of the ABC reality dating series' twelfth installment.

On Thursday, Noelle talked to Reality TV World about why she's glad Matt didn't give her the final rose; what made her put a wall up at the beginning of the competition and thus delayed their connection; how romance was the last thing on her mind heading into the show; and how Matt might have planted the seed for her to embark on a new career path.

Reality TV World:  Your connection with Matt didn't materialize until after the first few Rose Ceremonies.  Why do you think it took so long to develop?

Noelle:  I think there's a couple reasons.  On my end, I was -- like I said -- pretty guarded to start with.  So I wasn't letting too much in.  On his end, he also waited to ask me on a one-on-one date.  I got the last one.  I think a combination of that just gave us a really, really late start compared to the other girls.

Reality TV World:  So why do you think Matt kept keeping you around if that connection took a while to develop?  Were you surprised that you kept surviving Rose Ceremonies?

Noelle: (laughing)  I like how you used the word "survive."  That's exactly how I felt!  I was kind of confused as to why I was sticking around.  In fact, the episode where I had my little breakdown, I was telling [Robin Canfield] that I don't want to be just a girl that he's like, "Oh, I'm handing out roses.  I have one left.  Here you go.  Noelle catch."  I didn't to be just that girl.  I figured if he really was interested in me and wanted me around then of course I would want to be there.  But otherwise, I didn't want to be that girl. 

So he actually told me a little bit later on that from the very beginning he had felt like we had something, and I think it was kind of like he already knew he wanted to keep me around for a while so he almost set me aside and was like, "Okay, well I'll get back to her later on." (laughing)

Then those girls that he was questioning more are the ones that he kind of dealt with next.  But in the meantime I had no idea.  I was thinking he was just completely not into me.  It was confusing! (laughing)

Reality TV World:  So just to backtrack to that conversation with Robin, she suggested you shouldn't accept a rose from Matt if that's how you felt.  Did you ever think of taking Robin's advice and rejecting a rose from Matt?

Noelle:  Um... That night I kind of considered it -- and not because Robin said that, just because I wasn't sure if he wanted me there.  That night, I was just overwhelmed by everything.  Everything closed in on me and I had a little moment of breaking down.  But after that I didn't consider it because I wanted to be there as well.

Reality TV World:  After you were eliminated, Matt made it clear that the "connection" you two had wasn't as strong as the ones he had with Shayne Lamas, Chelsea Wanstrath and Amanda Rantuccio.  Did you have the same feeling about it?

Noelle:  Absolutely.  That's why I wasn't too surprised when it happened.  I was disappointed, but at the same time, I didn't want to be leading myself into thinking I was the only one.  I knew -- I could see -- that he had chemistry with all these other girls and they were really connected with him.  So I wasn't really surprised.
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Reality TV World:  You've already mentioned your problem with letting your guard down.  Was that something you were concerned about entering the competition?

Noelle:  I actually didn't really think about it until he brought it up.  One of the first conversations we had, he said, "You seem like someone who's a little more difficult to get to know just because you seem like you have a wall up."  I was just like, "Ugh."  I had heard that before, so when he said it I was like, "Oh no!  Really?  You can see that?" (laughing)  So I was kind of bummed that he called me out on it. (laughing)

I don't regret having a wall up with him, just because there's all these other girls involved. I almost had to protect myself.

Reality TV World:  During your post-elimination limo ride, you mentioned that this "wasn't the first time that having walls up has gotten me here, it happens a lot."  And during your hometown visit, you also told your parents how "all your life" you haven't "let guys in."  Can you explain those comments a little more?  Have you had many long-term relationships?

Noelle:  I have not really had many long-term relationships. I've dated a lot, but for some reason, getting to that point of an actual relationship is really tough for me.  I really don't know why.  I can't really pinpoint where that started or why it started.  But I just have to believe that when it's the right person, that wall will just naturally dissolve and I'll be able to open up.

Reality TV World:  When would you say you eventually started to open up to Matt?

Noelle:  It was definitely our one-on-one date.  Up until then, I had started to see things in him that I'm like, "Okay, I could see myself liking him.  I can see qualities that I can appreciate."  But it wasn't until that date that I was able to be like, "Okay, I feel safe enough."

Reality TV World:  Was it surprising to watch Monday night's episode and see Matt tell your sisters that he was falling in love with you? 

Noelle:  I don't really know what to think about that whole comment.  I do feel like he's an honest guy.  It's tough when you're dealing with all these different girls and all these different questions.  It's hard to... He obviously can't say everything he's feeling because then there would be no show.  Some things you have to hold back a little bit.

But I do feel like he was pretty honest and up front with me anyway.  I don't think he'd have any reason to lie to my family, which is why he said, "To be honest, I'm feeling things for multiple girls."  It's true.  I could see that. 

I guess I wouldn't have used the word "love."  I think that word kind of caught me off guard.  I was like, "Whoa!  That's a strong word." (laughing)  But I knew that he had feelings for all of us at that point.

Reality TV World:  Although the show billed you as being from Loveland, you've actually been living in Los Angeles for the last five years or so.  Did it seem a little weird to suddenly be bringing a guy "home" to your parents back in Colorado?

Noelle: It was just a weird situation. (laughing)  Bringing a guy home that they never even met on a reality show... I don't know.  I don't bring guys home a lot so it was a strange thing for all of us.

But I think my family's response was really great.  They impressed me with how open they were to him.  I would expect them to be pretty skeptical about the whole thing.  My dad was a little bit.  Of course they showed him at the most skeptical moment. (laughing)  But overall, he was really cool, he was really open.  They were all impressed with Matt, so I think it went really well.

Reality TV World:  After Matt had left Loveland, were you confident you'd be receiving a rose at the next ceremony?

Noelle:  I don't know.  At that point, I felt like things were just getting a lot more real.  So I was like, "Okay, this would be a Rose Ceremony where I didn't [get a rose], it would be like, 'Ouch.'" (laughing)  But at the same time, I never once felt confident that I would be getting a rose.  I knew what he had with the other girls, so I knew it was always up in the air.

Reality TV World:  Did you get to talk with Matt at all before the Rose Ceremony? 

Noelle:  No.  Unfortunately, we walked right into the Rose Ceremony.  I kind of hoped that we would have time because I would have liked to tell him where I was at.  But I didn't get the chance to.

Reality TV World:  Were you glad that Matt spoke with you before you departed or would you rather have just left?  I'm asking because you said in the limo that a few of his comments were "confusing."

Noelle:  I think it's great that he took the time.  At this point, there's real emotions involved and he met my family and he knew that was a big deal to me.  I think had he just been like, "Okay, see ya!"  I would have been a lot more hurt.  It was good that we got to just step away from the other girls. 

I think we were both pretty much on the same page.  He told me that we connected late.  I said, "Yeah, I agree."  It was all very amiable.  I was like, "Alright, good luck!" (laughing)  I really meant it.

Reality TV World:  As a viewer, it seemed like Matt had a stronger connection with Robin than he did with you.  Did he ever explain why he decided to keep you for a hometown visit instead of her?

Noelle:  I don't even know actually what they had.  I heard a little bit from Robin -- Robin and I were friends.  She would tell me that they had this great connection.  I don't know what happened.  I don't know if there was one definitive moment where he was like, "Okay, forget that."  I don't know.

I was confused a little bit at the time.  I figured it was between me and her.

Reality TV World:  How were you cast for The Bachelor?  Had you applied for the show before?

Noelle:  It was definitely my first time.  I never really considered it, and it was a very last-minute thing.  I was the second to the last girl cast.  So they were hurrying to get all the casting done before they started filming, so it was a really quick process -- pretty much a week.

It's a pretty arduous process -- which it should be, because you've got to make sure you're in a healthy place. (laughing)  So there was a lot of stuff to do.  It was kind of a whirlwind, then a week later I was there.  I didn't have time to think, "What am I doing?" (laughing)

Reality TV World:  That leads well into my next question.What were your expectations going into the show? Did you go into it looking for a serious relationship?

Noelle:  Luckily I didn't really have any expectations going in.  My intentions were just to have an adventure and hopefully meet some cool people, make some friends.  Honestly, the romance was kind of the last thing I considered.  It was the last thing on my mind going into it.

Reality TV World:  Wow.

Noelle:  Yeah, I don't know if that was really fair to Matt.  It was sort of like a "Why not?" thing.  Once I got there and I met him and then I realized that it's the main element of the show (laughing), then I realized that I really needed to take that seriously.

Reality TV World:  What were your first impressions of Matt?

Noelle:  I thought he's really tall, (laughing) which I love because I'm pretty tall.  So it worked out well.  I loved his accent.  But honestly, my first impression was he's a good-looking guy, but not necessarily my type.  Like if I saw him on the street or whatever, I don't know that I would really be... It was one of those things where my attraction for him developed once I started getting to know him and his personality.

Reality TV World:  Had Matt presented the final rose to you, you would you have been willing to relocate to London for him? Had you discussed relocation with him?  It seemed a little strange that we haven't seen much mention of that on the show.

Noelle:  Yeah, we did have a brief conversation about that.  I think I even said, "It's crazy, but yeah." (laughing)  It is just crazy to -- over such a short period of time -- be able to commit to something like that. 

I don't know, it's so hard because looking back I'm glad the way it worked out the way that it did.  Had I been presented with the last rose, I really don't know what I would have done.

Reality TV World:  Interesting.

Noelle:  Yeah.  I did have feelings for him and I really liked him but it's such a big step.  I don't know if I would have been ready.

Reality TV World:  Some of the previous bachelors who have appeared on the show have had their "sincerity" questioned.  Do you think Matt was sincere about wanting to find a wife on The Bachelor?

Noelle:  I do.  It's hard to know exactly where he's coming from, and I think that's probably part of the reason why I was skeptical -- I had my guard up -- because I don't know why this guy is here.  But he seemed like a really sincere person the more I got to know him.  That's also the first thing that my family noticed about him -- that he's really sincere and really genuine.

Reality TV World:  Do you think Shayne, Chelsea and Amanda are all sincere in their reasons for being on The Bachelor?

Noelle:  I can't really say.  I can't really speak for anybody but myself.  But I definitely feel like they all... It's like regardless of why we went on the show in the first place, I think all of those girls developed genuine feelings for him.  I think it was the same kind of journey that I had -- maybe we went in just for the adventure or for this or for that, but it ended up being real in the end.

Reality TV World:  We saw Matt be skeptical about Shayne in the beginning since she's an actress.  Was it weird to you at all that he took that approach with Shayne and not with you even though you're both actresses?  Why do you think that was the case?

Noelle:  You know, I was really okay with that.  It wasn't brought up much in conversation with him.  I did mention to him that's why I was in L.A., but I just don't feel like that's what defines me.  I just didn't want to feel like I was trying to compete with Shayne in that way because I can't.  I don't know. (laughing)

Reality TV World:  Which of the three remaining bachelorettes do you think will receive Matt's finale rose?

Noelle:  If I go with who I would pick for Matt, I would pick Chelsea for Matt.  Based on just being there and seeing them interact, they're just... Chelsea is such a cool girl, and she's very witty.  They're just kind of on the same page.  But I don't know if that's who he's going to choose.

Reality TV World:  So who do you think he's going to choose?

Noelle:  After watching the show, I'm seeing stuff that obviously I didn't see while I was there, and I'm seeing this crazy connection with Shayne that I really didn't know at the time was going on.  So I'm almost thinking maybe he'll pick Shayne.

Reality TV World:  Are you currently dating anyone?

Noelle:  Nope.

Reality TV World:  Did The Bachelor change the way you approach dating?

Noelle:  Not really.  I'll try to be aware of the fact that I have a guard up, but not really.

Reality TV World:  So what's next for you? Are you still in L.A. trying to land acting gigs?

Noelle:  Actually, the acting I think is kind of coming to an end.  I'm definitely more passionate about photography.  In fact, Matt and I had a lot of good conversations about photography.  We had one conversation about photojournalism, and he was like, "Have you ever considered that?" 

It's kind of funny, because since then it's been in the back of my mind.  I've really been thinking about it, and based on him kind of putting the seed in my head, I'm thinking I'd like to get into photojournalism.
About The Author: Christopher Rocchio
Christopher Rocchio is an entertainment reporter for Reality TV World and has covered the reality TV genre for several years.