Todd Wright photo
Rozlyn Papa, a lifelong Richmond resident, became the focus of an unflattering spotlight earlier this year when ABC booted her off the reality show The Bachelor . Papa, who attended VCU, says the network claimed she was engaged in an "inappropriate relationship" with a producer, implying that she was having an affair with him. Papa says that she and the producer were just friends, but he did share information with her that cast members were not supposed to see. C'est la vie . (ABC did not return calls for comment.) Papa says her acting and writing careers are taking off, and she's spending plenty of time with 7-year-old son Ayden.
Q: What's the biggest difference in your life since The Bachelor aired?
A: One of them is being recognized, which is usually a good thing in Richmond, where it's a small town, a friendly, Southern environment, and people are very sweet, want to say hi or have positive words. And also the opportunities that have come along.
Q: Tell me about those.
A: The opportunities? I've been really fortunate in that I've gotten to work with a lot of great people since then, whether it's correspondents for different networks; I've gotten auditions for roles. I just finished filming a pilot for a sitcom [ Playing with Guns ] on Spike TV. It's got a really great cast — it's got Danny Masterson from That '70s Show and Joey Kern, who's this really awesome up-and-coming actor, and I play Joey's love interest. It's hilarious. It's a great fit for me. Also, I have an independent movie coming out that's going to start filming this summer. The best thing about it is it's Hollywood, but I don't have to go to Hollywood. Everything I talked about is being filmed on the East Coast.
Q: Tell me a little about the movie.
A: The movie is a romantic comedy. It's called Twice Removed — it's about a guy and girl who fall in love and find out they're cousins, and it's all the comedy and chaos that ensues. It's a really great script, it's a local writer. Yes, I'm the girl who falls in love with her cousin! It's perfect — the drama that always seems to surround me.
Q: Is this the sort of thing that you hoped to achieve when you signed up to be on The Bachelor ?
A: Acting was always something I was interested in, but I got married really young and had a baby really young. That took priority. Everything else got put on the back burner. Fortunately, I'm in a place now where my son's dad is really involved, and we split our time with him, so I have time to try to be successful and follow my passions when he's not with me and still be a great mom. It's about finding that balance. It's working out so far.
Q: Do you think you'll stay in Richmond?
A: I get asked that a lot. I've had job offers in Los Angeles that would require me to be there six months out of the year, and that's too much time to be away from my son. And Richmond is home; Richmond is the best place for my son to grow up. I will go to work wherever I need to, but I'll always come home to Richmond.
Q: How long have you lived in Richmond?
A: I grew up in Richmond. My family's from the North; we're a bunch of Yankees transplanted to the South. I went to St. Bridget's; I went to Collegiate; I went to VCU.
Q: What did you major in at VCU?
A: English. I always loved to write, and I'm working on a book right now about being a single mom, sort of the struggle that single moms face, finding balance. Unfortunately, a lot of marriages don't work out, and there are a lot of single moms. I went to Barnes & Noble one day to find a book for tips on being a single mom, and I couldn't find one. I thought, here's a void. Here's something that a lot of people could use. It's not about being a perfect mother; there's no such thing as being a perfect mom. And I don't think being a perfect parent entails teaching your child to be perfect. You can't. They're always going to make bad decisions. Being a good parent means showing your children how to keep their heads high and push through adversity, and learn from their mistakes.
Q: When you were offered The Bachelor , did you sit down with your son?
A: When I first was asked to do the show, the first thing I asked was, "What about my son? When can I talk to him? When can I see him?" They agreed to let me talk to him every day on the phone and that they would fly him out every other week. So, I did talk to my son about that. He's too young to really get it, and it's funny, because I have a lot of friends in Hollywood who are in the entertainment industry, and they'll send him things and give him messages from Miley Cyrus. He just thinks it's the norm. He just doesn't get how special that is. Maybe one day he'll look back and think, "Wow, my mom is kinda cool," but now I'm not that cool.
Q: Did anyone say anything to him at school when the show was being broadcast?
A: People have come up in front of him and asked, "Oh, aren't you that girl from The Bachelor ?" It doesn't really faze him. When you're that young, it just becomes part of life. Mainly people are super-nice.
We did have an incident with a teacher at his school that said some nasty things about me, actually. She said something in front of him and posted something online. We had to fire off a little letter from my lawyer. It's disappointing that somebody who's teaching our children would say something negative about a parent.
People need to realize it's like a soap opera. Reality TV — there's nothing real about it. It's out there for entertainment, and when somebody starts to take it seriously and actually become angry about it, you need to re-evaluate what's going on in your own life.
Q: If you had it to do all over again, what would you do differently?
A: It's so funny because the biggest mistake I made going into this was not putting everything in writing. Which I know sounds crazy, but these contracts basically say, "We can humiliate you and defame you and do anything we want with impunity." You have no legal recourse. So you put yourself out there to be humiliated and have certain things exploited, and there's not a whole lot you can do about it.
Looking back, I would have put in writing, "I want to see my son every other week. I want to talk to him every night." I don't want any confusion. And that's about all you can do with these shows. It's all about crafty editing. If they have a story line for you, and they want the show to go a certain way, you don't have a lot of control over it. You go into the show knowing you're going to be portrayed unfavorably, most likely. I didn't know that going into it; it's something I learned, unfortunately, after the fact.
Q: Do you think it works toward your advantage that people remember you more than some of the other girls?
A: Yes, I've had more opportunities because of the way things ended. In a way, it's flattering that they used me as a sort of ratings booster. I don't agree with the way they did it, but at the end of the day, it was huge. It was all over the place. E! channel had a list of the biggest scandals in entertainment — No. 1 was Tiger Woods, and No. 2 was me. My family's so proud! [ Laughs. ]
Had I just left on my own accord or just not gotten a rose, it would have been a different experience. So, in a way, it's good that I left in a memorable way. On the other hand, it brought on this whole thing with the sex tape that they said I was in, but I wasn't.
Q: How did you first hear about the sex tape?
A: I heard about it the same way everybody else did — online gossip blogs, magazines. And it said, "Rozlyn Papa, allegedly in a new sex tape." TMZ was the one that really pushed it. They posted a link to this supposed sex tape that I was in. Of course, I knew it didn't happen; my lawyer and agent knew that that wasn't true. But at the same time, you're kind of worried: What do they have up their sleeve? When we saw it, it very clearly wasn't me. The girl's got blonde hair and blue eyes — that's the extent of our likeness. I didn't watch it; I saw clips of it, and I didn't believe that the media is allowed to do that. The Internet is forever. My son will forever be able to Google my name and see that I was in a sex tape, even though I wasn't.
There's so much irresponsible reporting out there. There's so much irresponsibility in this need to say mean things about people in print or online, because that's what they feel is going to get the most attention. It's embarrassing for my family, and the bell can't be un-rung, even though it's not true. Later on, they retracted it, but the damage is done.
Q: What do you watch on television?
A: We actually don't have TV. When I had cable, I'd look at the clock, and it would be 3 a.m., and I would realize I'd been watching hair-implant infomercials for the last two hours. You just watch this garbage, like The Bachelor. [ Laughs .]
Q: What's your favorite author?
A: Well, my favorite book of all time is Brave New World [by Aldous Huxley]. I think that was written in 1938 [actually, 1931], but you read it, and it's just so relevant. It's all about the future and genetic engineering, all of these things that we're so curious about today. But it's really about human nature. I've read it about a million times. As far as a favorite author, I really love David Sedaris. If you're in a bad mood, you can't read David Sedaris and not chuckle.
Q: Did The Bachelor affect your dating life at all?
A: I was in a relationship for a while with someone from Richmond, for the first time in a very long time. I'd been dating people in Los Angeles. I met somebody that I really fell in love with here, and unfortunately, I'm in a place right now where I'm learning to let myself be loved. That was really hard for me. It's still kind of in the air with this guy. I love him very much, but I'm not the easiest person in the world to be in a relationship with. We're working on that right now.
He was awesome — we had started dating by the time the show came out, which must have been hard for him to see. But he was so supportive, and even though we're not together anymore, we still have a very strong friendship. He was there for me through everything. I haven't quite dived back into the dating pool yet. We'll see — wish me luck.
Q: People here know you as a model. Do you have any memories from the day you shot the cover for Richmond Bride?
A: I do! I remember that day very well. Actually, a different model was booked that day, and she got very sick. Todd Wright, who is a wonderful photographer and a wonderful person, called me as a favor to come in and replace this girl. I said, "Let me find a babysitter." That cover is stunning.
Q: What's the strangest modeling job you've taken?
A: I have a very embarrassing one, actually. Around the time I did the Richmond Bride shoot, I got a call from my agent, and she said, "We just need your legs." It was for a brake-pad company, and they had made this giant box of brake pads, and they had me in it with my legs sticking out, and there was a guy dressed as a mechanic hugging me. So, it was a mechanic hugging a giant thing of walking brake pads, and I was the legs.
Q: That is bizarre.
A: Oh, I know. [ Laughs. ]
Q: If Ayden came to you, say, 10 or 15 years from now and said, "Mom, I want to be on a reality show," what would you tell him?
A: [ Laughs ] That's a tough one! Here's the thing: I am all about life experiences. I'm all about trying new things and doing the best you can. I'm not a big fan of reality shows, but at the same time, it's an experience not many people get to have. It could be a lot of fun. Would I want him to do The Bachelo r? Absolutely not.
I don't like the premise of finding love on TV. Aside from that, I'd say whatever floats your boat.
Q: So I guess you wouldn't sign up to be The Bachelorette if they offered it to you.
A: Ah, no — absolutely not. And I'm not strictly opposed to doing another reality show; it would just have to be a very different premise. They did ask me several times if I would do their new show, The Bachelor Pad , which, as they described it is sort of a mix between Survivor and Big Brother , but it's all people from previous seasons of The Bachelor or Bachelorette .
They called and said, "We know you had a really bad experience on our show, and we're really sorry about the way things happened, but you're still part of our family." What kind of dysfunctional family did they grow up in?
Anyway, they asked me to do this new show, and my initial response was "No, no, no," and then I thought there's a price for everything. But we did not come to an agreement on that, and at the end of the day, I'm just not interested in getting wrapped up in that again.
Q:When you signed up for The Bachelor , did you think at all that you'd meet someone you'd have a relationship with?
A: When I signed up, they said [the competition is] between three guys: It's going to be either Kipton, Reid or Jake. I never watched the show, so my sister and I YouTubed them. I talked to the producer, [who asked], "Is there any one that you like?" And I said, "Kipton and Reid, but I'm not interested in Jake." And then, just before I left, they said it's going to be Jake, and I said I'm not interested. They said, "Oh, it's fine, just see what happens."
They didn't care that I wasn't interested in him. So, for them to criticize me and say that I wasn't there for the right reasons — they already knew that I wasn't going to fall in love with this guy and that I wasn't attracted to him. They're not interested in that. They don't care about people falling in love; they care about the ratings and the drama.
They have story-writers. Everything is very calculated. They knew going in that I wasn't interested in this guy, but they cast me anyway. They were very much pursuing me to be on the show. It wasn't the other way around.
Q: How did they hear about you?
A: I have a friend who's a casting director in L.A. who's friends with another casting director, and he got my picture and my information, and they were done with casting [ The Bachelor ]. They already had all the girls they needed. They got [my] picture and called me and said, "We have a casting weekend next weekend, and we really want you to come. We'll fly you out here — it's basically as good as done." They were very accommodating to get me on the show.
Q: Do you think they planned to cast you as the villain?
A: Absolutely. Everybody on the show — unbeknownst to the cast — has a cast sheet. I wasn't supposed to see this, but because I made friends with one of the producers, I saw my own. So, it gives your background information, your likes and dislikes and insecurities. I mentioned to somebody, "Oh, I've got skinny legs, and that makes me self-conscious." They have that on there; they want to exploit the things that make you insecure.
And they also said that I was going to be this season's Wes [a Bachelorette contestant who confessed to having a girlfriend at home]. So before I even got to the show, my cast sheet said I was going to be this season's Wes and that I wasn't going to get along with the other girls. That was my story line.
They can't control everything; they can't control what you do, but they have a basic guideline of how they want the season to play out.
There's 25 girls [at the Bachelor mansion] the first night [of the show]. You get to L.A. a couple of days before filming starts and do the photo shoots and everything, but they actually fly out about 30 girls. And every single one of those 30 girls thinks they're definitely on the show. In reality, five of those girls are backup girls. In case somebody backs out or won't do what they want them to do, they've got replacements. They want to see who's going to be dramatic enough for the camera and if they're going to follow directions.