New Bach reveals why she won’t simply be ‘somebody’s wife’
SO, DID you find love? It's the first time she's been asked the question since filming wrapped on the dating juggernaut that is The Bachelorette. And it's the question that's going to haunt her for the next two months.
Angie Kent kicks off her trainers, wriggles into her chair, tucking her bare feet under her. "I am very, very, very happy," she says, smiling.
As she adjusts the cascading orange tulle of the White Label Noba dress she's donned for U on Sunday's exclusive photo shoot, the diminutive 29-year-old from the Sunshine Coast considers the rest of her response to the "love" question carefully.
"The L word is a big word, and it's something I want people to be able to see it for themselves, but I have found someone and I have never felt this way."
But she wants Australia to know she didn't need The Bachelorette - or its "glam squad" - to do it.
For four years, viewers knew Kent as the unfiltered larrikin sitting on a red couch beside with her best friend Yvie Jones and miscellaneous rescue dogs, on the Channel 10 and Foxtel reality series Gogglebox.
She's the first to admit, she's no Bachelorette. Not just because she didn't match the clean cut leading ladies of past seasons of the Channel 10 show, but because she was an independent, free-spirited feminist who had sworn off dating at 21 to pursue her career and travel around the world.
At 29, she hadn't been in love and nor had she wanted to be. Mentioning the idea of giving up anything in her life to be "somebody's wife" she dry retched.
"If they (the men) just were like 'I really want a wife', I would have been like, no. I want a partner, I want equality, I want best friends who also love to do other things. I don't want to be somebody's wife," Kent says.
So when the network's offer to be the next Bachelorette - made the day after she returned from her stint on I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! in January - sunk in, Kent contacted them from her family home at Alexandra Headland on the Sunshine Coast to offer them an out.
"I was like 'Holy shit, I'm not a Bachelorette, what the hell were they thinking?' so I did wig-out a little and I said 'look if you want me, I'm still going to be me, so I'm giving you time to change your mind','' she recalls now with a laugh.
"And they said 'no we want you to be you, that's why we picked you'. So I calmed down again and said 'all right then, I'll do it'.''
Heading into filming, Kent says she worried that producers would try to smooth down her rough edges.
"(My biggest fear was) that I wouldn't be portrayed as myself and that maybe they would try to make me into more of a Bachelorette,'' she says.
"I never want women to think that I couldn't find a man so then I had to be glam-squaded in order to find a man. That wasn't the case at all. I could've got a boyfriend sitting on my couch with my dogs. I wasn't ready and I didn't want that.
"I wanted to make sure that I really stayed true to myself and let people know that I did it purely because I was ready mentally, physically and emotionally."
It took Kent a long time to get to that stage in her life where she was ready for a long-term partner.
A born performer who idolised filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, Kent grew up on the Sunshine Coast with parents Mark, a soil technician, and Jane, a teacher aide at Siena Catholic Primary School, and younger brothers Brad, 26, and Josh, 24, who has autism and a chromosome abnormality.
Despite being close to her family, she wanted to travel and start a career, so she left home at 17 after graduating from Siena Catholic College to study creative industries at QUT in Brisbane - inspired to become a director because of her fandom of Luhrmann.
"I don't know why I was such a feminist, I just was," Kent says.
"My mum and dad had very gender specific roles and I think it's because of that I was like I don't want to ever have someone make me not feel like I'm as worthy as they are. I think it's OK if women want to do that. I just wanted the opposite from what I saw growing up."
She spent time studying in London and the US before moving to Sydney at 21 with the goal to work in television production, interning for 12 to 14 hours a day for free and picking up promotional work where she could to earn money.
It was through that, working as an elf at a Westfield shopping centre, that she met Jones, who was Mrs Claus.
A year later Kent moved into Jones' home with her friend Tom, who had Down syndrome and diabetes - a household Kent described as "the perfect modern family".
After Jones' friend in television sent in a tape of them, they agreed to sign up for Gogglebox with the goal to get some of their rescue dogs adopted. While that was successful, it meant Kent struggled to get work behind-the-scenes on television again.
So inspired by her life with Tom and her childhood with her brother Josh, she found a career as a support worker as well as working as a nanny, spending a few months at a time working as an Au Pair in London before returning to Sydney to film another season of Gogglebox.
She created a documentary project called "Tom's Plan" through Metro Screen about living with people with a disability - for which she received funding to turn into a feature - and travelled to South Africa in 2018 to teach at-risk girls about respect through a camp called Seed.
"I was just like no, I don't want to date, I want to travel, I want to figure out who I am before I let anyone else in," Kent says.
"I wanted to tick all my boxes first because I didn't want to resent anyone."
It was the sudden death of her grandmother on her mother's side, Nanny Fae, from a heart attack last September that changed Kent's outlook on love.
"I went there to take her out for breakfast after a radio gig I was doing and when I got there she was dead, so it was a pretty hard thing,'' she says.
"She (Nanny Fae) and I had a really special bond. She was very much an angel. She was just different and we always said she had a direct line to God.
"It really left my family distraught, especially my mum.
"But something in me thought she wanted me to find her, I don't know. It just made me realise life's so short and I'm not here to muck around."
Kent agreed to go on I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! to detox from the grief and it was in the South African jungle that she realised she was finally ready to find a partner.
"I've experienced pretty much everything I wanted to as an individual and then losing the person I loved the most I was like I want that love back, so I was like I'm so ready for a partner,'' she says.
"I was still very frightened but then when I came out and got offered this I thought 'Oh well that's a sign'.''
She saw the Bachelorette as a way to "skip all the bullshit" because most of the men were there for a solid relationship and those who weren't she felt she could "work them out pretty quick".
The Kent audiences will see on the show, she warns, might come as a shock.
"It's a Bachelorette version of me. I wear pretty things and I'm not walking around dropping the F-bomb - often," she says.
"I was just more of a vulnerable, zhushed up version of myself. I was still very awkward, very uncomfortable and said whatever came to my mind, (but) I think Australia will see a really different side to me because I've never dated in a long time so to see me so vulnerable and really throw myself into it, it will be like 'oh who is this girl' because it's all me. I can't act. It's definitely me."
The vulnerability was something that took some getting used to and her one takeaway from the experience - which she calls her "love jungle" to avoid the cliche "journey" - was wishing she'd let her guard down sooner.
"It's hard when you are juggling lots of men and trying to protect your heart and make sure you're making the right decision," Kent says.
"But I think being vulnerable is so powerful. By the end I was just so vulnerable. I was just like 'This is me I'm just going to let out all my feels'."
Now she says she and her chosen man "message all day" and for the first time she is excited to plan a future with a partner.
"Love is a priority to me and I want to make sure I put him as a priority because I've never done that with a partner before," Kent said.
"But I'm very independent and I love an adventure and I hope he always wants to come along with me.
"But I want it to be equal. I want us to each have our own careers. He is very supportive of what I want to do and I'm very supportive of what he does and wants to do. I wouldn't give up my life for a person. With the right person you don't have to."
Whether that future is on the Sunshine Coast or elsewhere, Kent isn't sure. She wants to buy a home there for her family but is willing to see where the universe points her next, with her Nanny Fae watching over her, when the Bachelorette finishes airing.
"I'm open to moving anywhere for my partner, for work, it depends what comes my way really once all this is done and once I have a solid chat with him and see what we both want to do," she says.
"I just love talking to people and making people laugh. I've always loved that since I was a little girl. So hopefully (I find) something where I can get paid to do that."
But she knows, after watching Matt Agnew's season of the Bachelor, she is in for a bumpy ride over the next six weeks as Australia watches her love safari from their couches at home - just like they did on Gogglebox.
"If I knew now what they go through and the experience and the emotions I never would have sat on my couch and judged like I did,'' she says.
"I've watched the Bachelor and I just see all the stuff that's not true and I just hope that it doesn't affect me and my guy and that we always just talk about it, because he's going to see a lot of stuff he doesn't like.
"It's tough but we are great communicators. We always just say whenever we have even a little problem, let's just talk about it and not create our own shit, because that's easy to do.''
And maybe, soon, that constant chatter will finally include the L word.