ABC Exec Rob Mills Defends Clare Crawley’s Young ‘Bachelorette’ Casting

When ABC announced that Clare Crawley will be the season 16 Bachelorette, many Bachelor Nation fans were enthusiastic about casting the 38-year-old hairstylist. Crawley made her official debut in 2014 on The Bachelor, and she will also be the oldest lead to date. Many speculated that since she’s older that the contestants would also be older, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

“I think the world has changed and people are waiting more [to find love]. We’re all living longer now, so people are waiting more, so I think that’s important to take into consideration. But certainly, you look at Hannah Brown last season who was 24, and she was poised, confident and ready,” ABC executive Rob Mills told Variety in a recent interview.

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The exec continued: “And these girls [on Peter’s season] were too. Look at Hannah Ann in the end, through the breakup — that was a woman who knows herself and knows what she wanted. Look, someone like Clare is certainly deserving of love, but so is someone who’s younger.”

The season 16 Bachelorette cast was announced on Tuesday, March 10, revealing that out of 32 men competing for Crawley’s heart, 22 of them are in their 20s. The youngest to be cast, James C. from Chicago, is 23. The oldest in the cast, Bret E. from Utah, is 42 – and he’s also the only contestant over 40.

When Crawley was announced to be the next Bachelorette, she spoke out about the positive side of looking for love at an older age.

“I feel like a lot of people put it out there as this negative thing,” she said on Good Morning America on March 2. “But for me, it’s just more years under my belt, more years of knowing what I want and what I don’t want, and what I won’t settle for.”

She also said that dating a man who is younger than her is “not a problem.”

“The thing is, I’m wondering if they’re ready for me with my age, so I feel like that would be more of an issue than me with them,” Crawley said. “I feel so much younger at heart than my actual age — I’m proud of my age, but I just feel younger, and that, to me, is what’s important.”

The Bachelorette season 16 premieres on Monday, May 18, at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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