Michelle Money has come a long way since she was dubbed the “villain” of Brad Womack’s season of The Bachelor — but the season 15 alum isn’t afraid to admit she misses that version of herself.
“As cringy as it is, it really helped mold me into the person that I am today. And so I really wouldn’t change anything. I wouldn’t take anything back,” the 39-year-old told Us Weekly exclusively on our “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast, noting that she had “a lot more self-acceptance” as she revisited the show on the Monday, July 20, episode of The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons — Ever! “Not that I wasn’t, like, totally arrogant and overly confident. But I was also barely 30 years old. And I had just walked away from my very conservative religion of the Mormon church and got divorced and I was finding my footing and my confidence and stepping into my own sexuality as a woman, feeling very liberated with where I was in life. And that definitely plays out in the entire season. … But, you know, having said that, 10 years later, as I look back, I’m like, ‘Gosh, I kind of missed that part of me.’”
The Money Method creator explained that it took “so much therapy” for her to unpack the backlash she got from viewers amid her pursuit for Womack in 2011.
“As women, we are standing up and stepping into sexuality and owning our full selves a lot more … Back then, I was, in a way, a representative of that within an era that that wasn’t really common,” she told Us. “I was very polarizing. People either loved it or hated it. Now, I think if you were to take my character from them and plop it into a season currently, I don’t think it would be as frowned upon.”
Money, who shares daughter Brielle, now 15, with ex-husband Ryan Money, added that she had no idea she was going to be the controversial character when she was filming the show.
“I remember writing in my diary on the flight home and thinking, ‘I’m going to be the girl who misses her daughter so much. She’s always crying that she misses her daughter, and who’s taking this seriously because if it’s not gonna work out, I want to get home to my daughter,’” she explained. “And then when the show airs, they show nothing [about] my daughter or my relationship with her or how hard it was to be away from her.”
Money added that she was “really upset” by how her relationship with Womack looked onscreen, revealing that there were “multiple things that were edited, completely contradictory to what really happened.” She added that she felt “manipulated” by producers.
“I was told in every interview, ‘Brad loves how confident you are, you can tell you guys have something so unique that he does not have with anyone else.’ Like, ‘Bring on the confidence, all of it,’” she recalled. “And so I’m just like, ‘Alright, I’m just gonna be me and be confident,’ and then come to find out, they’re using that to make me look like overly aggressive and not showing any of the softer sides of me or any of the compassionate conversations or softness that I also embody.”
As a result, some fans were surprised to see the Utah native return for Bachelor Pad and Bachelor in Paradise.
“To be really honest with you, the producers really had to convince me,” Money told Us about her decision to return, noting she had a list of requirements. “I had emails from the executive producer apologizing about over-editing me and you know, it was just a lot of trust and wanting to be able to be seen for who I really was. And I knew I wouldn’t get that opportunity again.”
Money has since found love with golfer Mike Weir. While the pair have no plans to wed, she told Us that he asked her to be his “forever girlfriend” with a ring. She gushed, “Mike and I have this mutual beautiful commitment with each other, where we just want to be life partners.”
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For more from Money — including what Clare Crawley told her before she left to film The Bachelorette — listen to Us Weekly’s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast.