One of the biggest questions a contestant on “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” faces is whether they’re there for the right reasons, which is to find love, rather than the wrong ones, such as Instagram followers and a quasi-career of reality show-hopping while showing their abs. Baltimore’s Justin Glaze applied on a dare, but he’s glad he did.
“I never would have wanted to have said ‘No’ to something,” said Glaze, 28, a finalist on the summer 2021 season of ABC’s “The Bachelorette.” He competed with 30 other telegenic fellows for the heart of bank employee Katie Thurston.
Glaze is not the only Maryland member of the so-called “Bachelor Nation,” but he has become beloved through a series of GIFs and memes of his incredibly expressive face.
“In grade school, something funny had happened in class and someone turned and looked at me and said ‘Your face is hilarious!’” he said. “People on the street will come up and say ‘Re-create that face’ and I really can’t! I don’t even know how I made those faces.”
I covered Glaze’s season as a freelancer for The Seattle Times, and was delighted that a fellow Baltimorean was getting famous because he was sweet and funny, and not because, say, he was discovered to have a girlfriend and just wanted to promote his country music career. This would be a wrong reason.
Raised in Howard County, but now living in Baltimore City, Glaze had only watched the “Bachelor” franchise a little. He applied for several reasons: a complete lack of a dating scene in the COVID-19 era, boredom with the apps — “You find yourself making a lot of small talk, and you think ‘Where is this even going?’” — and as a joke among his friends, one of whom admitted to tuning in with his wife.
“The guys were all giving him a hard time, and I said ‘You know what? I could do that!’” remembered Glaze, who works in financial technology sales. “They were like ‘I guarantee you’re not going on that show’ and I said ‘Watch me.’”
So he pulled up the application, adding “a handful of Instagram photos,” and hit “send.” He was mostly looking for a screenshot of a completed application to prove to his friends that he’d followed through. Then he got a text from a strange number claiming to be a Warner Bros. casting agent, and an email — dug out of the spam folder — from a casting director.
“I didn’t trust it, so I basically did FBI work,” matching the name to LinkedIn accounts and proving it was real, he said. Two months later, he was at a resort in New Mexico where the entire season was filmed. Due to coronavirus restrictions, both the extravagant international destinations and the traditional hometown date, where each finalist brings the series lead to meet their family, were ruled out. Glaze wound up having two friends fly out to meet Thurston. He’s disappointed he didn’t get to show off Baltimore.
“I would have loved to have been able to highlight my city. You say you’re from Baltimore and people say, ‘Oh is it like “The Wire”?’ That would have been cool,” he said.
The season was filmed in March and April 2021 but didn’t air until the summer, meaning that he was back home in Maryland during the broadcast and had to shut down inquiring minds looking for spoilers. Having a contract forbidding leaks helped, “because I could literally get in trouble,” he said.
This didn’t stop extra-intrepid friends from figuring out how long he’d been out of town, or noting the absence of the two friends who flew out to New Mexico. Following his “Bachelorette” appearance, Glaze graduated to “Bachelor In Paradise,” which is sort of the spring break version of the main show. It’s lots of hot people flirting, drinking and shenanigan-ing in the Mexican sun, and Glaze was in a love triangle of sorts with his season-mates Rodney Matthews and Eliza Isichei. It got all kinds of messy, and he says that the truth of the situation wasn’t reflected in the final edit, but he confirms that he and Matthews remain friends.
Like a lot of “Bachelor Nation” participants, Glaze continues to be affiliated with the franchise through several events, as well as “friendships that would last a lifetime” with some of his former romantic rivals. He admits that it was “easier to be buddy-buddy” during the beginning of the season, before any of the contestants were serious about Thurston.
“Once we got to the end, and guys would come back from one-on-one dates, it sucked to hear about it. We were like, ‘We’re not going to talk about it,’” Glaze said. “You’re actually seriously vying for the same woman. It’s upsetting.”
He and I were both bummed that our local contestants on the current season went home so soon, but he said he’d recommend other Baltimoreans apply if they can fit it into their lives. “There are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities I’ve had, like throwing the first pitch at an Orioles game with my parents and grandparents in the stands to see it, that I never would have had,” Glaze said.
Glaze is currently single, but don’t expect to find him on the apps, “for privacy reasons, for security. I’d question their intentions.”
In other words, he’d wonder if they were there for the right reasons. Yes, it’s corny. I’ll see myself out.