Marcus Lathan, newly single at the end of 2020, “wasn’t really doing any dating.” It was winter in Portland. The pandemic was raging. His work in real estate was busy. So, he didn’t download any dating apps. And while he had heard of The Bachelorette, he hadn’t seen a full episode.
When a representative of the hit ABC show contacted him in early 2021 via social media to encourage him to apply, he says he thought, “I might as well say yes to this experience and see where it goes.” He also binged-watched season 14 to familiarize himself with the format.
Lathan (’12 Busi.) wound up being one of the 30 men vying for Katie Thurston’s affection on the seventeenth season of The Bachelorette. Six went home the first night and, “unfortunately, I was one of them,” says Lathan, a real estate broker, property manager, part-time model and DJ, and VanCoug.
He studied finance and marketing, graduating from Washington State University Vancouver without setting foot on the Pullman campus. “It was a good fit for me. I was able to build my network locally, and that has helped me in real estate,” says Lathan, who lives in Portland and sells property in both Oregon and Washington.
For the past ten years, he’s also been represented by a modeling agency, appearing in ads and commercials for Nike, Columbia, Microsoft, and more. Modeling “definitely helped being in front of the camera. You kind of forget it’s there.”
Filming for The Bachelorette took place at a resort in New Mexico in early spring 2021. “I was the only person other than Katie from the Pacific Northwest,” Lathan says. “So I had that edge.”
Thurston grew up in Lynnwood and worked as a bank marketing manager in Renton. She was a contestant on season 25 of The Bachelor.
“I wasn’t nervous until we pulled up and they told me I was going to be the first one out of the limo,” Lathan says. Thurston “was super nice and looked amazing. We chatted for a little bit, but it didn’t air.”
After introductions, he headed inside to the cocktail party. “There were already 25 guys in the room,” he says. “I walked around and introduced myself.”
Contestants took photos and did small-group or individual interviews during the party. It was “a really long night of filming,” Lathan says, noting, “Everything’s filmed. You’re mic’d up the whole time, and pretty much everything is fair game. You have to be comfortable with being vulnerable and talking about almost anything and everything. Everybody’s kind of nervous. You’re all working on getting your time with Katie before the night is over.”
Lathan didn’t get a one-on-one, but he and two other guys did get “to sit with her for a little bit.” That didn’t air, either.
Is the show scripted? “No, not at all. It’s all real conversation, and they don’t do retakes. But it’s not being broadcast live so you don’t know what’s going to be edited out.”
Given the chance to do it over, “I would probably come up with something fun to do coming out of the limo,” he says. “A lot of guys did something extravagant. If I could have made that part a bit more fun maybe it would have gone a little differently.”
When the elimination started, “you’re actually nervous. You don’t know what’s going to happen. You’re just standing there, waiting for your name to be called.”
To make things more uncomfortable, Lathan says, “the room was very hot. A lot of us had our backs to the fireplace, and we were just sweating like crazy the entire time.”
He didn’t receive any money for being on the show, but his flights, food, ground transportation, and lodging were covered. And he still keeps in touch with some of the contestants. “It’s a fun club of people who have been through this interesting experience together,” he says. “I would definitely be open to doing another reality show, if that becomes a possibility.”
The night the first episode aired, June 7, 2021, “was crazy in terms of my social media blowing up with messages and new followers on all of the platforms. I got a lot of messages of support from the Portland and Vancouver area, which was a lot of fun.”
Since then, “I’ve been recognized a handful of times,” Lathan says, joking, “I’m a Z-list celebrity.”