Utah ‘Bachelor’ contestant shares details on her faith, backstage drama and why she never appeared on national tell-all episode
SALT LAKE CITY — Maquel Cooper competed on “The Bachelor” and lost — sort of.
At least she didn’t win the heart of racecar driver Arie Luyendyk Jr. — Becca won him over first, then Lauren, in a controversial ending — and she didn’t see much screen time.
And, unlike the rest of the contestants, Cooper never got to share her side of her "Bachelor" experience.
As the Deseret News previously reported, Cooper didn’t appear in the reality show’s “Women Tell-All” special episode in which “Bachelor” contestants reveal anything and everything they want (within the confines of their contract) to the national public.
Cooper didn’t appear in the show’s final live episode, either.
Now, Cooper, who lives in American Fork and is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is reflecting on her time on the show. She spoke with the Deseret News about her Mormon faith, why she thinks she wasn’t invited to the tell-all and where she buys soda in the state of Utah.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Deseret News: Thanks so much for agreeing to chat with us. How would you describe your overall experience on "The Bachelor"?
Maquel Cooper: It’s like a surreal out-of-body experience. I loved it. I had so much fun. I loved the girls. It’s definitely a different experience, but I loved it. I’m glad I did it.
It’s such a huge ordeal. You’re quitting your whole life, putting everything on hold. You’re packing up all your belongings. … I feel like I didn’t get the full experience in the dating part. But I definitely did when it came to traveling, friends, experiences, insight and dealing with all the things a normal TV show would.
DN: How do you feel about being on the show for four weeks?
MC: I’m glad for how long I stayed. It would have been nice to stay longer and get to actually get to go on a one-on-one date, but at the same time, there wasn’t a connection. I’m not mad about it. It’s not like I’m thinking there was something.
DN: What was your favorite scene that didn’t make it on the show?
MC: My lunch lady thing — they did not show it how it really was. It was so much better in real life. … That was one of the funniest things for me.
That whole one-on-one time with (Luyendyk) was really, really good. I gave him one of the Polaroids that we took. And after that, we kissed. We ran away from the cameras, and the cameras followed us, obviously. But we laid in a hammock, stargazed and kissed. I was sort of bummed they didn’t show that because that was a really big stepping stone for me in the show. Then again, I didn’t want myself kissing all over TV.
DN: If you could go back, what’s one thing you would change?
MC: Before I went on the show, I was so scared that I would be turned into a villain or that my words would be twisted or that I would disappoint. I really want(ed) to represent my family, my state, my religion, myself. I didn’t want to do anything disappointing. So I don’t feel like I was true to myself. I was really quiet whenever the cameras were on me. Or on interviews, I wouldn't state my actual answers. I wish I had been more myself and more goofy with stupid faces that I make and say my opinions on how I felt about things.
DN: What was it like being on that sort of show as a Mormon? Many of the contestants drank, but it didn’t seem like you ever picked up a drink.
MC: I obviously never drank. I was never pressured to drink, either, so that was nice. It wasn't weird to see everyone else drink, I was "whatever" about it.
As far as my religion goes, the week I got eliminated, I told (Luyendyk) I was Mormon. So that was interesting. I wasn’t flashing it but they all knew I was Mormon. They caught on when they knew I didn’t drink or I don’t swear or I was wearing modest clothes. I tried my hardest to wear modest clothes. It’s not the easiest for like rose ceremonies. Or the dates you have to wear workout clothes.
Going onto the show, I really, really wanted to make a stand for Mormons. I wanted people to know that Mormons are normal, Mormons are cool, like we’re not freaks of nature — I’m normal, I’m just like you guys. Yeah, I’m not perfect and I don’t claim to be perfect, (but) I’m doing my best. And I really just wanted to be a millennial Mormon and be there for the people who are watching me right now. I know in some of my (Instagram) posts I may not be perfectly modest, but I’m a model … I wanted to show that just because my shoulders are showing, that doesn’t mean I’m not a good Mormon. Like, I still believe in the same things, I’m still living it as much as I possibly can.
DN: What do you think of Arie and the controversial ending, when Arie broke up with Becca for Lauren in a clip shown on national TV?
MC: I am not mad at him at all for changing his mind. I think I’m one of the only ones. I don’t really like Arie or respect him at all, but I definitely think that when it comes to choosing a partner and a life, I think that's a very important decision and if you want to be selfish, you can be. …
I don't think it was nice to do it on TV, but at the same time, if it wasn't on TV, everyone would have been mad. … (People are) never happy. And at the same time, I don’t know if he had a choice to have it filmed or not filmed. If he did have a choice, I understand why he would want to document it to show people that this is the process, this is everything, instead of cutting out a huge portion.
I’m not super supportive of Arie at all, but I support Lauren and I know she’s super in love with him.
DN: Why didn’t you show up on the tell-all or any of the aftermath shows?
MC: My producer texted me weeks and weeks in advance and said, "Hey, save these dates, it's the women tell-all." …
The time comes and all of us girls are in a group chat and everyone's talking about the tell-all and their flights getting booked and stuff. And I’m like, "That’s weird, my flights aren’t booked. I haven't heard from my producers."
… I texted my producer and (asked), "When are you going to tell me I wasn't invited?" And he was too scared to tell me that I wasn't invited, and so he was literally just going to not tell me at all.
(He called me later and asked), "Do you think you should be invited?" I was like, "Yeah. If Marikh was invited, I should definitely be invited. If Ashley’s invited … if the first night girls are going, I should definitely be there."
His excuse to me was … "Well, you would shy away from drama, you wouldn't talk bad about anybody, you didn’t seem interested in the drama." I don’t make good TV, that's what he’s basically saying.
… I’m not about (drama). I’m not going to try and get airtime and just be rude to people. So then I just got off the phone with him and I was really sad. … I felt like my self-worth was knocked down a lot. I was like, "Wow, I’m not worth anything. I was a waste of space." I was, like, really depressed and the fact that all my friends were invited except for me — I was the only one not invited. …
If you want the honest truth, I think the real reason is because of that post when I was 17 years old when we all dressed up as Mexicans and everyone thinks we’re racist. … (The producers) just (want) to prove to America that they don’t stand for racists, even though we’re not racist. They were too scared to tell me that.
On my part, those pictures were so bad and I don’t know why I took them. … If I was more drama, I think (the producers) would have ignored the racist thing and still invited me. But I think it was the two combined: I’m not drama and there was the racist thing, so, "Let’s not invite her."
DN: Should people watch “The Bachelor?”
MC: I think (people) should watch it. I think it’s fun. … It’s not a trashy show at all. There can be sketchy moments or sketchy people, I guess. "Paradise" seems to be more like that, but I think ("The Bachelor") is really fun — it’s entertaining. It’s your daily dose of drama. …
DN: It didn’t work out with Arie. Are you dating anyone? Are you back with your ex-husband?
MC: I’m still single, but definitely not dating. After my divorce, I have not really wanted to date. The only real dating was "The Bachelor" and like a couple dates here and there. I’m not really interested in dating or anything like that. I’m on good terms with my ex and I still see him and his family all the time.
DN: Is there anything about "The Bachelor" and your time on the show we didn’t talk about that you want to make sure readers know?
MC: People who are watching or reading: Don’t believe everything you see, everything you watch. Be more understanding and realize everyone is human. I feel like watching the show, everyone micro-analyzes every move you make even on social media. People nowadays are criticizing Instagram … (for) perfectionism … but viewers are the ones making it like this. If I don't portray perfection, if I show any part of me that is real or type something that is myself, I get in trouble and someone DMs me or harasses me.
(I would say,) "Bachelor" viewers: Be more loving, understanding.
DN: What is your favorite restaurant in Utah?
MC: Communal. I really like that place. … More of a like a go-to place would be Zaxby's for fast food. Zaxby’s is so underrated. … I promise you guys if you do a blind taste-test and you did Zaxby's chicken fingers vs. Chick-fil-A chicken fingers, you would choose Zaxby's every time.
DN: Do you have a favorite soda shop?
MC: I don’t really go there that much, but if I had to pick one, it’d be Sodalicious. Their cookies are way better. I drink Coke all the way. I love Coke, Red Bull and I guess I drink water. … If I’m eating something salty, I want Coke. If I’m eating something sweet, I drink water. But I prefer McDonald’s Coke over Sodalicious or Swig.