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TV

How love and a heartbreaking tragedy gave Lily McManus the courage to say yes to The Bachelorette

''I thought maybe I’d used up all my luck and there’d be no chance I could find that a second time," she confesses.

By Cloe Willetts
It's not like Lily McManus to be hesitant about jumping into a crazy new adventure. But when the Celebrity Treasure Island star was invited to become one of New Zealand's first Bachelorettes, she wondered if it was too good to be true.
The adventurous blonde has already fallen madly in love on screen once, dating fellow The Bachelor Winter Games contestant Courtney Dober, which ended in 2018. She wasn't sure that kind of connection could happen to her again.
"I thought maybe I'd used up all my luck and there'd be no chance I could find that a second time," confesses Auckland-based Lily, 23, who also appeared on the Zac Franich series of The Bachelor NZ.
"I usually have the mentality of 'why the hell not?', but I guess I was over-complicating it, not wanting to put myself through that if it wasn't going to work."
Lily with her fellow Bachelorette Lesina Nakhid-Schuster.
But a week after she received the casting call, Lily was given a devastating reminder to grasp every opportunity.
"My grandma was diagnosed with bowel cancer and given about a week to live," shares Lily, who flew to Australia the next day.
"I was sitting on her hospital bed, explaining the show's concept of two girls and 25 guys, and having to date them," she recalls.
"She said the show sounded awful, but asked, 'Why are you stressing about this? Just give it a go, be genuine and honest. Be Lily and see where it gets you.'"
It was the tipping point.
"I looked at this gnarly, rough and raw Australian woman from a completely different generation – on her death bed – telling me to make the most of it," tells Lily, whose grandma sadly passed away a week later. "She was a great woman and there's a lot of her in me. She never got to watch the show but I think she'd be really happy I did it."

However, before Lily signed the contract for the TVNZ 2 series, she had one condition. "I'd only do The Bachelorette if it was 100 per cent about female empowerment," she declares.
"I wanted to meet the other girl to make sure I was comfortable. And it was important we're at different life stages so we're not competing for the same guys."
When she met Auckland doctor Lesina Nakhid-Schuster, 32, they clicked.
"She's a great person and just radiates niceness. She's like a little puppy – you can't help but love her!" grins Lily. "We can have mature conversations about our emotions, which means there's never drama or negative feelings forming."
There was also the issue of telling former flame Courtney, who Lily remains close to.
"Obviously with Courtney living in LA, I can't really see him, but I'd drag my toes through blenders to help him with anything," she says.
"He was really supportive but he won't watch it. I can't imagine he'd want to see me date 25 men on television!"
A car crash left the beauty bruised and concussed.
"I got T-boned by another guy and my head got thrown against the steering wheel," she recalls. "It hit the soft part of my check – it could've shattered my cheekbone, or if it went any lower it might've broken my jaw."
Knocked unconscious, Lily had a CT scan in hospital, but was given the all-clear.
"The next day I had publicity shoots and was so concussed that talking on the phone gave me a headache, so I spent 10 days sleeping in a dark room," shares Lily. "When I smile on the show, you can see a little lump in the skin of my left cheek."
When it comes to first impressions, engineer Quinn Ryan is Lily's man of choice, and she says, "I thought he was quite striking. He wouldn't stop staring at me and I wasn't sure whether it was in a 'I want to wear your skin' kind of way or a 'I like you' way."
But the quirky snowboarder agrees only time will tell whose personalities click, saying, "You can put all the things you want in someone on paper, but you don't really know until it's standing right in front of you."
The free spirit already has her eye on one of the Bachelors - and Lesina approves!

Three rules Lily lives by

✦ Talk about your feelings. It's really important for relationships in general.
✦ The girl code. Don't cut each other's grass. Be open and honest, and remember we're on each other's team. Lift other women up.
✦ Never wear a bra. It's a money-making scheme. I don't even own one, other than a sports bra.

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