Matt James’s season of The Bachelor is breaking ground in more ways than one. Not only are we (finally) seeing a Black man in the leading role, the show is welcoming its first deaf contestant, Abigail Heringer.
Heringer, 25, told viewers during the premiere, “I was born completely deaf. So if I take my cochlear implant off, I can’t hear anything.”
The Salem, Oregon native said this subject is an “awkward thing to bring up” on a first date. “It’s like, ‘Hi, nice to meet you. Let me overshare this one thing really quick,” she said.
But James is looking for vulnerability from his contestants—so when Heringer shared this fact about herself, it moved him. “One of the things I challenged the women with was being vulnerable, and I felt like you were everything that I am asking of these women tonight,” he told Heringer during the premiere. “Knowing that you’re a fighter, I thought that it was only appropriate that I ask you something.”
The question, of course, was if she’d accept the first impression rose—which she did before sharing a sweet kiss with James. The move makes Heringer an undeniable frontrunner for this season and one of the contestants to watch.
So what else do we know about Heringer? Here are some quick facts:
Both Heringer and her older sister, Rachel, are deaf.
“[My sister] is a year-and-a-half older, so she kind of, like, paved the way,” Heringer told James. “I just followed in her footsteps. She was really vocal about telling people [about being deaf]. And then I was jus, like, ‘I’m second in line.’ I follow her footsteps the entire way.”
She’s a coffee lover.
Per ABC’s bio of Abigail Heringer, “Nothing makes her happier than enjoying a cold local microbrew on a beautiful Oregon day.”
She’s an outdoors person.
Another fact from her bio. Other tidbits: She’s close with her family, laid-back, and looking for someone who “makes her feel like it’s just the two of them in the whole wide world.” Honestly, same.
She graduated from South Salem High School with a near-perfect GPA, according to an article about her from The Statesman Journal. She then went on to study finance at Linfield College and now works as a financial analyst for a Beaverton, Oregon-based event and marketing company.
Both her and her older sister underwent successful cochlear implantation surgery at the age of 2.
“I was surprised she was willing to share her story about her hearing loss,” Heringer’s mother, Suzie, told The Statesman Journal. “It’s something she usually doesn’t talk much about.” (The Heringer family also includes dad Weston Heringer III and two sons, Alistair and Stuart.)
Google searches about cochlear implants reportedly skyrocketed after Heringer’s Bachelor debut.
As one Twitter user pointed out, this is why representation matters.
I mean, who wouldn’t? It’s not like Bachelor couples have a great track history of staying together. “To be honest,” Suzie said to The Statesman Journal. “I don’t think this is a great way to meet your forever person.” That being said, she also told the outlet, “[Abigail has] always made us proud, and she’s got a really good head on her shoulders, so I’m not worried about anything. Hopefully, she’ll have fun.”
She did warn her daughter of one thing, though: “I jokingly told her to remember her grandparents will be watching. I know that will stick with her.”
Read more about Abigail Heringer right now over at The Statesman Journal.
The Bachelor airs Monday nights at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.