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Michelle Young, ‘The Bachelorette’ star and her winner: “We Were Able To Show a Black Love Story.”

The Bachelorette revealed another engagement on its season 18 finale. Michelle Young, the former Division 1 basketball player and elementary school teacher who stood out as the runner-up on Matt James’ controversial season of The Bachelor earlier this year, returned to the work-in-progress franchise this fall to lead her own cycle, still confident in the…

The Bachelorette revealed another engagement on its season 18 finale.

Michelle Young, the former Division 1 basketball player and elementary school teacher who stood out as the runner-up on Matt James’ controversial season of The Bachelor earlier this year, returned to the work-in-progress franchise this fall to lead her own cycle, still confident in the reality TV process.

“The story is going to be told accurately,” she told The Hollywood Reporter at the start of her season. It will be accessible to all walks of life, and it will showcase the diverse love stories .”

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In the end — as it was revealed on Monday’s three-hour live finale — Young was right. After falling in love with Nayte Olugoya, she got engaged and is house hunting with the sales executive. Young plans to move from Texas to Young’s home in Minnesota. The pair will also be starting their life together with a $200,000 gift from the ABC franchise, to use as a down payment.

Below, Young and Olukoya, the first Black couple across 43 seasons of both The Bachelorette and The Bachelor, speak with THR about their historic journey reflecting a long-awaited shift in the storied ABC franchise and why representation on TV matters.

Michelle, you came into The Bachelorette saying you weren’t setting out to make history. It’s obvious that you and Nayte have made history together in this franchise. After you settle down from the high of being in love and finding your person, what significance does it hold for you to become the first Black couple from The Bachelor and The Bachelorette?

Michelle Young: For us, it’s just so incredibly important that we were able to show so many people a Black love story. There have been many cast members from diverse backgrounds, but these stories weren’t always shown. This season, with the ending of Nayte’s story and mine, this love story has been shown. I hope you will tune in.

Nayte Olukoya: For me, I’m just really happy that representation was able to be shown on television. It’s something that I think about when I was growing up. Not seeing many people like me on television, even if they are not always in the best light. It’s really cool. My little sister is one of the very few students of color at her school. It’s important that the younger generation sees the same story as Michelle and me, and sees people like them fall in love on TV — and be as beautiful as they are. (Laughs. )

Nayte, you celebrated the Top 4 being all men of color in a recent Instagram post, and Michelle, you shared with the men how you haven’t always felt seen in the past. How are you feeling about each other after all you have been through, and how did you come to this point? How do you feel when you are together on a bigger scale?

Michelle: I think it’s just a very powerful moment, and it’s something that is only going to get more powerful moving forward. We are in love, and many other things, but that hasn’t been our focus. He was focused on me, and I was focused on him. We used our voices for good, the platform we have, to move forward. This was definitely not something we planned. It just happened.

Nayte: When I took to Instagram, I know it’s not some absolutely crazy, historic moment in the grand scheme of things, but I was proud to be a part of the first time that the Top 4 individuals were all Black. It’s exciting to be the first Black couple. It’s a first, so it’s fresh. Being a part is going to be an honor.

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Nayte Olukoya proposing to Michelle Young.
ABC/Christopher Willard

This franchise has come a long way after putting in work to diversify itself both in front of and behind the camera in the last two seasons. Michelle, you expressed confidence in the show despite recent stumbles when you talked about why you signed up. What made you feel so sure that you would be represented, supported and loved?

Michelle: When I walked into it, I definitely had non-negotiables. If I was going to accept this opportunity, there were certain things I knew I needed to talk about. My belief system and who I am — it was important to me to stay true to myself. I felt that if I did that, I would be able to achieve the results I desired. After experiencing these things, I believe that is why we might be here. It’s more than this single ingredient. This entire experience has many layers. It’s all been great and I’m very pleased with the outcome.

Nayte kept you guessing a little bit. Did you ever wonder why so many people were questioning Nayte’s intentions or if he was truly committed when you viewed the show back? Did you have a different experience?

Michelle: It was more so that you have this person who has never been in love before who is falling in love for the first time — it was hard for me to be vulnerable. It’s hard to be vulnerable when you consider all the other factors. With Nayte, I knew that I was not relying on my gut instinct. I was able get the answers I needed from Nayte after we had a conversation. There is only so much time in the day! However, I felt like I had found my man and was confident in that decision. This man is now much more vulnerable than I can see. At this point, he is even more vulnerable than I am. He’s very skilled at it. He is leading the relationship!

There is a lot of focus around if couples last in this franchise, which reflects the reality of relationships. Nayte, would it be possible to defend yourself right now?

Nayte: No, I don’t think there’s any need for me to defend myself. The show has ended. Now it’s my turn and Michelle’s to tell the story how they want it to be told. We will always be organic and natural with one another. They’ll also see what we share with the rest of the world.

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A surprised Young and Olukoya, with host Kaitlyn Bristowe (left), receiving the gift.
ABC/Christopher Willard

You shared some of your future plans: Nayte, you are moving to Minnesota, where Michelle lives, and you two are house hunting. The franchise also, in a first and to much surprise, gave you a $200,000 down payment for your home. How does this gift affect your life?

Michelle: House shopping was a very early conversation. Nayte and me discussed logistics and viewed it realistically. He is in Texas and I am in Minnesota. How will we do this? How will we navigate a relationship? We both wanted to get in. We’re house-shopping, and the show knows that. We didn’t know that such a generous gift was coming our way. It gives us energy and we are grateful for it. We wouldn’t necessarily have made it there without your support, but we are so grateful for your help.

Michelle was very open about falling in love with two people [Olukoya and runner-up Brandon Jones]. It was clear that her heart was in the right place, but it was difficult to find it. How can you as a couple move to acceptance and get to where you are now?

Nayte: Realistically, from day one, if you are a part of this journey, you have to accept the fact that this is unnatural and that everything that’s going on isn’t necessarily the true cadence of naturally meeting somebody and falling in love. There are 30 other guys and one Michelle. Michelle and I spoke for about an hour after our engagement. I was able to hear her tell me everything that happened and what her feelings were. You can understand this when you are already in the environment. Some people may only fall in love with one person, some may fall in love w

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