Ben Higgins is ending his year the way he started – starring in a reality television show.
The 2008 Warsaw Community High School graduate was “The Bachelor” for the 20th season of that romance reality show, which premiered Jan. 4 on ABC. During the course of the show’s season, he met, fell in love and got engaged to Lauren Bushnell.
The couple’s newest venture, “Ben & Lauren: Happily Ever After?,” premieres at 8 p.m. Tuesday on Freeform, formerly known as ABC Family.
In a conference call with three reporters Wednesday afternoon, Higgins and Bushnell talked about their two shows, their hometowns and whether or not they’ll do more reality television down the road.
During “The Bachelor,” Higgins’ family and friends described him as “Just Ben.” He was asked by a Fort Wayne reporter if he’s changed, and Bushnell was asked if her perception of Higgins’ hometown of Warsaw has changed.
“I hope they just see me as Ben,” Higgins responded. “… Warsaw taught me a lot about myself. I hope I’m still the same person because it molded me into the person I am, and I like that guy.”
Bushnell said her perception of Warsaw has not changed. She’s gotten to know more people in the city and feels she can find her way around now. “Warsaw feels like a third home,” she said, adding that she’s from Portland, Ore., and she and Higgins live in Denver, Colo.
The Portland reporter asked if they’ve been able to visit Bushnell’s hometown since they’ve been filming the new show. Higgins said they’ve not been able to get back there as they’ve spent most of their time shooting in Denver and Los Angeles.
Before “Happily Ever After?” began filming, Bushnell said they were able to have an engagement party in Portland. She said she also expects that sometime between the holidays this year, they will make it back to Portland. “I need to get Ben back there. I have so much more to show him,” Bushnell said.
When asked about the wedding plans, Bushnell responded, “You’ll definitely have to watch the show.”
During the 2005-06 school year, filmmaker Nanette Burstein directed the documentary “American Teen” at WCHS. Higgins appears in a couple of scenes, but said that experience didn’t cause him to want to be in more reality shows. He did manage to take something away from the filming of that documentary. He said Mitch Reinholt, the “jock” in the documentary, was his best friend. What Higgins learned was how Reinholt used the movie as a platform for causes he was interested in. He also saw how Reinholt was a good man throughout the whole experience.
Asked why they decided to do another reality show this year after just finishing up “The Bachelor,” Higgins said what it came down to for them was the realization that “The Bachelor” was good for the both of them. He said public life is not easy, and doing a new show wasn’t an easy decision, but they also knew their lives weren’t going to be private.
As for doing another show after “Happily Ever After?,” Higgins said he doesn’t know what the future holds for them, but whatever decisions they make will be based on what’s best for them.
Filming for “Happily Ever After?” is ongoing, and Higgins said the show will have some scenes from Warsaw in it. They were back here earlier this year and shot a few scenes, though Higgins said he doesn’t know what they will look like in the episodes. Higgins commented that Warsaw has been very supportive of them.