Brown is the first woman to be named Bachelorette who didn't even make it to hometowns. She's also the first Bachelorette to have been labeled a season villain, following her feud with fellow beauty queen Caelynn Miller-Keyes. As the Alabama native exclusively told ET's Lauren Zima at her first official Bachelorette photo shoot ahead of her premiere, those qualities had her surprised she got the gig.
"I didn't expect it," Brown confessed. "I knew that I had laid it all out there at the end of this and I'd really grown and my experience was amazing. I really believed in the process, and even though it wasn't my love story, I do believe it can happen for people and it has obviously in the past."
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"I wanted it so bad and I felt like it could be me, but, yeah, this never happened before," she added of her becoming Bachelorette without even making it to Underwood's final four. "I think I'm just real, and that's why it's me, and I want to continue that. And I promise that the man that walks through that door, they're gonna see me, and I'm going to expect that in return."
Brown knows things weren't smooth sailing. "I was the villain. I was the emotional trainwreck," she admitted. "I didn't just coast through at all. I wasn't just coasting in the back corner, that's for sure."
After being offered a shot at redemption in the form of a toast with Chris Harrison on Women Tell All, the blonde beauty was announced as Bachelorette No. 15 on Underwood's After the Final Rose. Harrison joked to ET last week that Brown's rocky debut had him worried about her handling the gig, but that she won him over on night one.
During Brown's interview with ET ahead of the premiere, she was still giddy over getting the job.
"I was just sitting at home on my couch and I get a call from ol' Chris Harrison, and I wouldn't even let myself believe it at first because I didn't finish in the final four," she recalled of finding out she was the Bachelorette. "Even when they called me, I'm like, 'Why are they letting Chris Harrison tell me the news that it's not me? This is ridiculous.'"
"I was just crying and tearing up and so excited. And then Chris paid me a visit in Tuscaloosa and we had some fun down South and here I am," she continued. "So, really, I've had every single emotion, but it's an emotional journey and I've tested them all out before. We're good, and I'm just really grateful, though, honestly."
Brown told ET she's "hopeful" for an engagement, but is most importantly looking for "an unconditional, wholehearted love." See more in the video below.
The Bachelorette premieres Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. Join ET's Bachelor Nation Facebook group here.