While she did not end up with the former football player (Cassie Randolph stole his heart — but the two later called it quits in April 2020), ABC gave Brown a second chance at finding The One by naming her the lead of The Bachelorette’s 15th season. However, she came up short once again, breaking off her engagement to Jed Wyatt during the After the Final Rose special in 2019.
Since then, the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, native has emerged as a forced to be reckoned with. After her Bachelorette journey came to an end, she joined the season 28 cast of Dancing With the Stars. She made it all the way to the finale with her pro partner, Alan Bersten, and they walked away with the coveted mirrorball trophy.
“I wasn’t planning the whole time to be, like, this empowered woman,” she told Marie Claire in 2019 about her newfound status as a role model for women and girls across the nation. “I am. And I do feel that way. But the thing that I told myself I was going to be was real.”
After all, Brown came from humble beginnings, like many of her fans. Upon graduating from Tuscaloosa County High School, she attended the University of Alabama, where she joined the Alpha Upsilon Chapter of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority and ultimately earned a degree in communications and information technology in 2017.
She went on to work as an interior designer in Northport, Alabama, before becoming a reality TV sensation.
In November 2021, Brown released her first memoir, God Mess This Bless, which included tales of her life on both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette as well as the intense pressure she felt while competing on Dancing With the Stars. She also touched upon her mental health, childhood and love life.
“I remember just being, like, ‘I just need a win in my life to feel better.’ And to realize that it didn’t make me feel better, that moment was soul-crushing in the moment too,” the former pageant queen told Us Weekly of her time on DWTS following a failed engagement on The Bachelorette. “I remember just being like, ‘Oh no, it’s supposed to feel different than this.’ That was a big moment for me just in life. And one of the biggest learning lessons that I’ve ever had.”
Brown continued: “I think I was supposed to win Dancing With the Stars to be able to have that story of — you can win the thing, but you have to realize it can mean nothing if you’re just going for the trophies [and] if you haven’t really worked on your heart first.”
Scroll down to take a look back at Brown’s evolution, from her awkward first date with Underwood to becoming a leading lady and beyond.