Jenna Cooper’s entertaining run on “The Bachelor” ended Monday night, when the Raleigh resident was eliminated during the season’s sixth episode, set in Paris.
But even though she didn’t snag the guy – 36-year-old real estate agent and Indy race car driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. – Cooper said she learned a lot about love and trust on the show.
“I’ve learned so much about myself,” Cooper said in an interview Monday. “I said I was gonna be open and then I realized that there was a lot holding me back. Like, I didn’t know if I could be completely open with my heart and trust people, but I’ve ended up loving so much more than I even thought was possible – loving the girls, getting very close to them, being open with my feelings and trusting everyone.”
Cooper, 28, said being on “The Bachelor” wasn’t something she’d ever thought much about, and certainly not anything she’d planned to do. Some friends simply suggested it and she thought, why not.
“I was ready to be open to meet someone, to make new friends, to travel – and apparently I was just OK with that being aired to the entire world,” she said. “So it was kind of just a whim. ... I thought, well, if I get on, I’m gonna go for it.”
The funny one
And “go for it” she did.
Cooper is known by “Bachelor” fans as the funny one – a welcome bit of comic relief when the drama gets a little crazy. She’d say something surprising (“I would drink my pee for Arie,” she joked during a survivalist hike) or do something strange (she once climbed on top of Arie during a makeout session, while wearing a long evening gown).
But she has no regrets.
“I feel like I don’t regret anything and it’s because if I would have been very normal and kind of held back and not had fun ... then I don’t think I would have had as much air time, because clearly they’re not showing the connection and the love story,” Cooper said. “So I’m just taking whatever happens and I’m just going with it.”
And her antics were always accompanied by plenty of laughter, from both her and viewers.
Cooper has been a fan favorite on Twitter, engaging and joking with “Bachelor” fans who were trying to figure out just what the heck she was doing. She understands why they’re puzzled and she appreciates their humor.
“I was just as surprised as everybody else – what was seen, certain things that were shown, only the crazy parts of me,” she said. “And I was like, you know what? I’m gonna go with it. So actually I’m very entertained by what Twitter trolls are saying, it’s actually really funny. Even if it’s mean or if it’s nice, I’m like ‘Oh well.’ I mean, that’s their opinion and really, I can see how they could perceive something like that, so I just think it’s hilarious.”
‘Raleigh’s my place now’
Cooper moved to the Triangle from Indiana about a year and a half ago, first moving in with her brother and his family in Durham, and then settling in Raleigh.
“I got to meet some people and know the area, and got a job,” she said.
She works as a social media manager running accounts and promotions for local businesses. She recently started her own company, Jenna Cooper Media, and has launched a review account on Instagram called @theraleighreview.
Cooper says she’s had a lot of local support and has “a lot of people on my side.” People recognize her now, in the grocery store and in the mall. The interactions are always fun, she said, and she loves her new home here. Plus, now she’s single!
“I just love it and I want to stay,” Cooper said. “Raleigh’s my place now.”