Emily Maynard Emily Maynard

Let's face it: Emily Maynard's a great date. In the midst of her stint as this season's Bachelorette, the 26-year-old sassy single mom from Charlotte, North Carolina, accepted our invite to paint pottery at New York's Make Meaning and talk a little shop. We may not have gotten a rose, but she sure won our heart.

TV Guide Magazine: So, filming just wrapped... Did you find what you were looking for?
Well, I was happy before I was on the show, and I am happy now. That's a plus, right?

TV Guide Magazine: Wow, you're good. How was it balancing the show with real life?
My mom duties went on just like normal. I'd get home from filming at 5am and was up at 7am making breakfast and packing lunch.

TV Guide Magazine: ABC couldn't spring for Lunchables?
[Laughs] Well, [my 7-year-old daughter] Ricki is a picky eater. And I'm that mom. The peanut butter and jelly sandwich has to have the crust cut off.

TV Guide Magazine: How did you manage to stand up with so little sleep?
I tried to remind myself that there are a million women who would give their arm to be where I am, so I had no right to complain. I wanted to be the best for the guys when I showed up, because it wouldn't be fair to them.

TV Guide Magazine: What did Ricki think of the guys?
You know, she didn't meet any of them. I kept her very protected throughout all of this, so she just thinks I was going to work. But one day, I'm going to be really proud to tell her about the decisions I made.

TV Guide Magazine: After your short-lived engagement to Bachelor Brad, how did the producers convince you to do this again?
: I was like "no way!" At one point, I told them to please stop asking, that I was never, ever going to do this. But I prayed about it and made a list of why I would and wouldn't do it. Everything on the "cons" list was out of fear. What if it didn't work? What would that magazine print?

TV Guide Magazine: You'll be run out of town!
Exactly. [Laughs] It turns out no one really cares. And [all of] Charlotte was so supportive. I would go into grocery stores and the magazine covers that had something bad about me would be turned around or ripped off.

TV Guide Magazine: Have you heard from Brad?
No. Although I did see an interview he did, saying he dodged a bullet.

TV Guide Magazine: He dodged a bullet?!
That was my reaction, too! [Laughs]

TV Guide Magazine: Now that both experiences are over, what did you learn about yourself?
I learned I'm stronger than I give myself credit for. I never thought I'd be able to look at somebody and say, "You need to go."

TV Guide Magazine: Did you ever second-guess yourself during those rose ceremonies?
A lot of times! I would go into the cocktail party with my mind made up, then something would happen and I'd change [it]. 

TV Guide Magazine: And you weren't aware of any beefs between the guys, either, right?
No, not unless one of them told me. The first night's drama with Kalon and Stevie? I had no idea any of that had happened until I watched the episode.

TV Guide Magazine: But Kalon brought that on himself, showing up in a helicopter.
Oh, totally. But I always stick up for the underdog. Even if he brings it on himself, the mama bear in me wants to protect the guy that's getting picked on.

TV Guide Magazine: Did Chris Harrison ever step in and say, "We need to talk about someone"?
He is amazing. He really does care, but I think I made pretty good decisions.

TV Guide Magazine: So we won't spend the season thinking, "Why is she keeping this jerk around?"
There [might] be a couple. Remember, I don't get to see what's going on in the house when I'm not there. Maybe I'll be surprised watching!

TV Guide Magazine: What did you think of them casting a race-car driver? [Maynard's first fiancé, NASCAR driver Ricky Hendrick, died in a plane crash in 2004.]
Honestly, if it had been anyone but Arie, I would have thought something was up. But he's such a great guy, it didn't bother me.

TV Guide Magazine: What ended up being easier, giving out the roses or getting them?
I'm not sure what was easier, but I know what was more fun: Giving them out.

TV Guide Magazine: Showing these guys who's boss?

The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.

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