Serena Pitt made waves from her very first night on Matt James’s season of “The Bachelor,” ending up in the show’s final four. The petite Canadian-born publicist showed up on a step stool so she could meet Matt at eye level, a first meeting that sparked their instant chemistry. Serena ended up leaving the show after Matt met her family, realizing she did not feel strongly enough about him to get engaged, in contrast to the three other women. Although Matt and Serena didn’t end up together, Serena’s candor and warmth captivated viewers, and many, like us, would love to see her back in future iterations of the show!
I sat down with Serena Pitt to chat about her South Asian heritage, her best dating advice, racism on “The Bachelor” and what’s next for her both romantically and professionally.
Could tell us about your family background and how your South Asian heritage might have informed your participation in The Bachelor?
“If you wanted to trace [my mom’s] lineage back to her grandparents, they grew up in New Delhi. My mom’s parents and her brother were actually born in Kenya, and then moved to London, where my mom was born, and then eventually moved to Victoria, BC, which is just an island off of Vancouver. They’ve always identified as East Indian. They are Sikh in regards to their religious background and speak Punjabi. My dad is completely white, so his background is kind of a mixed bag, but I think he’s predominantly English. So I am biracial. I grew up in a biracial household with both my parents.
I don’t really know if I would say that [my background] in any way correlated to the show. I didn’t really see my diverse background as being a barrier in terms of my influence in regards to the show. My parents have different backgrounds. I grew up in a pretty nondenominational household in regards to belief and religion and all of that. I am a biracial woman, but I’m also a woman of color. That’s kind of played a role in my journey with the Bachelor franchise, but I wouldn’t say that it was something that was at the forefront of my mind when I was applying for the Bachelor.”
What motivated you to apply to the show and how did your close friends and family originally react when they heard you were on it?
“Matt got announced as the Bachelor — I believe it was some time at the beginning of June. I’ve been a longtime fan of the show but I’d never imagined myself going on it whatsoever. The announcement kind of piqued my interest. I expressed that to my mom and my sister, and just kind of said, “He’s really good looking. Seeing his personality from a few interviews, I could see myself hitting on him at a bar, and shooting my shot if I met him in real life. He seemed like someone that I definitely could hit it off with.” And they really grasped onto that and were really encouraging me and pushing me to apply for, like, two months, before I finally applied in late July. Once I filled out that application, the ball just kind of got rolling from there.
I actually didn’t really tell almost anyone that I had applied for the show. I started to open up about it to some family and friends just near the end of the interview process and right before I left, but a lot of my close friends found out when it got announced after I left. It was kind of something that I just kept to myself, but the friends and family that did know were just super supportive and super excited for me. They said [to me], if this doesn’t work out, it’s going to be fine, and you have tons of opportunities here. And if it does work out, that’s amazing, and we’re super supportive. It took my dad a little bit longer a lot longer to get on board, but he eventually came around.”
How long was the interview process for you? When did you think to do it and when did you hear that you got accepted to the show?
“I applied really late. I heard that [I got accepted] shortly before we left. I don’t actually know if I can give you guys the exact timeline because of my contract, but if you look at when filming started, we found out not too long before that.”
I noticed that you were one of the youngest contestants on the show this season. When looking back at your experience, do you feel that you ended up leaving because you felt like Matt wasn’t your person or because you just weren’t ready to get engaged?
“I wouldn’t say that it came down to me not being ready for engagement. I mean, obviously, it’s a very big serious commitment in a short amount of time, which is scary. But I did say to my parents about the hometown date, ‘If I fall in love with this guy, and I get to a point where I feel confident that he is my person, I will feel totally comfortable accepting his engagement. I feel confident that that’s the step I’m ready to take in life, despite the fact that I’m 23.’
But it really just came down to the fact that I didn’t have that same feeling that you saw Michelle and Bri and Rachel have in the next episode, where they are saying, ‘I’m ready to accept the engagement from Matt. And he’s my person. This is the man I was waiting for. And, you know, I’m madly in love with him and 100% confident.’ I wanted those feelings but I didn’t feel comfortable accepting an engagement from him when I didn’t have those feelings.”
There has been a lot of controversy surrounding racism on the show and also how that played out this season with what is the most diverse cast in Bachelor history. Given how everything played out in the end with Rachel Kirkconnell, are there any actions that you think the show could take to be more supportive of people of color?
“I think that having a more diverse cast this season and having Matt be the first Black bachelor were definitely steps in the right direction. I think that it’s just not about taking baby steps anymore every couple of years. It’s about taking big steps forward every season. There’s still so much progress that can be made. It makes me sad to think that it’s 2021 and that Matt is the very first black male lead [on the show]. We’ve never had an Asian lead. I’m a biracial and half Indian and we’ve never had someone that looks like me lead the show. I would love to see more representation, more diversity within the lead role.
I think that we’re doing a great job thus far with diversity in casting. I also think a lot of it comes down to editing. I think the Bachelor cast itself did a great job of bringing forward and shining some light on the fact that the white women were given significantly more screen time for most of the season. Bri and Piper and Chelsea have these amazing stories and they’re amazing women, and that should be shared with the world as well. I think moving forward, sharing the women and men of color’s stories through the editing process would be a huge step.
One more thing for me would be making sure we have diversity in front of the camera, but also behind the camera. So that means who is making the decisions when we are casting, who is making the decisions when we’re editing the show, with production, all of it. The belief of diversity and representation within the franchise needs to be rooted in their core values. Hopefully, that will then expand outwards, to on-camera [stories], and then also expand even further into the viewing of the show, like attracting a diverse audience.”
How, if at all, do you think your identity as a biracial woman has affected your dating life and your relationships more broadly?
“I’m going to be honest, I grew up in quite a diverse neighborhood and diverse area. That’s not to say that I didn’t enter environments and situations where I was one of the very few women of color in the room. But I would say I’ve had a pretty diverse dating history. I’ve dated many men of different backgrounds. I have never felt that my race has been a large part of my relationships, as much as it is important that I am a woman of color and that is part of my identity.
I would never enter a relationship with someone who wasn’t comfortable looking at me and seeing me as a biracial woman and as a woman of color, and who wasn’t able to understand or at least be willing to learn that part of me and how that impacts who I am.”
Before the show, you had mentioned that you didn’t have much time for romance because of your “disciplined lifestyle.” How did going on the show change your plans for your future in terms of your romantic life, career and family?
“Growing up, I have always been fairly disciplined, very driven, very goal-oriented. I am very scheduled and planned in my life. Before going on the show, I had a very structured two-year plan for myself, which obviously got derailed by the show.
For me, going on the show was just a huge risk. It was a calculated risk, but it was still a risk. I didn’t know how it would play out. I could have gone home night one or I could have left engaged. At the same time, I really had no idea how it was going to impact my life after the show. Maybe that was naive of me, but I just did it. I feel like I’m in this weird stage of my life right now, where I did this kind of life-altering experience and it really taught me a lot. I’m an adventurous person and a curious person, but that was definitely the most out-of-my-comfort-zone thing I’ve ever done. It definitely leaves me open to future opportunities and possibilities that might put me out of my comfort zone again. I think I learned a lot about myself doing that. I don’t regret it whatsoever, even though it was really scary.
I’m back at work now and kind of back in my life. I do rest inside of predictability and routine but I am challenging myself moving forward to take more risk and push myself out of my comfort zone. I have to make some big decisions on what kind of path I’m going to be taking in my life and I think high risk leads to high reward at the end of the day.”
As someone who relates to being a very planned person, I’m curious what your zodiac sign is!
“Scorpio! What are you?”
I’m a Sagittarius but I have a Taurus moon, which is why I like plans and stability.
“I was going to say, Sagittarians are usually pretty wanderlust. Matt is a Sagittarius, and he’s always like, ‘Let’s throw the plan in the garbage and let’s do this instead.’ But I love a good plan and a schedule!”
On the show, you were very honest about how you did not particularly enjoy the Tantric yoga date you went on with Matt. So I’m wondering — what is your perfect date?
“It’s such a hard question because I truly don’t have a perfect date. But I did say, I really liked [our] first date. I was super happy when I found out what we’re doing. It’s a nice balance for me to be able to do something outdoors that is easy and active. I’m not a horseback rider, so it was a chance to try something new. We got to spend time outdoors on a beautiful day but we also got to talk. It’s a balance. I don’t want to sit in a movie theater with you and not be able to see you. But I also don’t want to just sit and talk for three hours. I want to be sharing an experience together.
I said at one point that my perfect date would be going on a hike or something like that and then grabbing lunch. I love food, so I always want to eat! I like dates that are low-key and normal. On the show, you have all these crazy extreme dates, which were still amazing. I was very jealous of Rachel when she walked in with her shopping bag but I remember thinking Kit’s date was so cool, because they really just got to eat cookies and hang out and spend very organic time together.”
Thanks so much for chatting with me today, Serena. Before we say goodbye, is there anything you learned from going on ‘The Bachelor’ that you would like to share with other young women of color who are looking for love in 2021?
My advice is to be 100% true and honest with yourself when it comes to relationships. I think people look at relationships as being mostly about sacrifice, and that is a component of them. But something I’ve learned is [that it is important] to make sure that your needs are being met too, and knowing what those needs are and what those boundaries are and not being afraid to voice those or enforce those in a relationship.