Rudi Reflects on Her 'Listen to Your Heart' Journey and Saying Goodbye to Matt for Good: 'I'm Empowered'
For fans of “The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart,” her name represents a rainbow of varying identities: soulful singer, savage truthteller, familiar friend, compassionate confidante, and hopeless romantic.
The latter description immediately conjures the memory of her relationship with fellow contestant Matt Ranaudo, with whom she developed a remarkable connection. However, the talented duo notably lost tempo during the Nashville finale, which aired in May 2020. Their whirlwind romance unraveled as quickly as it began, with Matt making an inexplicable call for the couple to bow out of the dating-singing competition series early.
Had they stayed, Rudi and Matt — known then to admirers as “Mudi” — could have potentially won “Listen to Your Heart” with one of their powerhouse performances, routinely lauded by judges for strong vocals and palpable chemistry.
“I was so confused. I was having such a great time and didn’t want to go home. I wanted nothing more than to be on stage and sing with him,” Rudi tells BachelorNation.com in an exclusive interview, reflecting on the unforeseen end of her show journey. “I was blindsided. But I realized why he sabotaged our chances of winning. If we won, we were supposed to tour as a couple.”
According to Rudi, Matt reconnected with an old flame once filming wrapped. She had anticipated picking up where they left off with cameras gone, but Rudi silently pushed her heartbreak aside to nurture a friendship with Matt as he appeared to pursue love with someone else.
“He was my rock after the show, especially through COVID-19 and in quarantine. We had just gone through this really intense process together and I felt like I needed him,” says Rudi. “We became best friends. Even though Matt shattered my heart on the show and then right after, I forgave him and moved on.”
The Texas native adds, “But what he did to me this year, in 2021, I felt was much worse. A friend would never do what he did.”
After months of maintaining virtual communication, Rudi says she and Matt reunited in Los Angeles in the fall of 2020 and collaborated on musical content for social media. Though still only friends at the time, Rudi says the pair’s interactions were unmistakably flirtatious. “When we’re together and you’re flirting with me and you’re leading me on, that’s giving me an idea that you still maybe want to be with me,” she explains. “I thought, ‘Maybe he’s still trying to hook up? Maybe he’s still trying to make this work?’ Thankfully, I held myself back.”
Then, this February, Rudi says Matt invited her over to his place for a Valentine’s Day dinner. “We actually wound up making out this time,” she recalls. “And it seemed like he wanted to hook up.”
Her intuition told her to press pause: “Even though I wanted to lean into all of that, I didn’t allow myself to go any further because something was just off about how he was handling things.”
Later in the evening, while on her way to use Matt’s restroom, Rudi’s path was illuminated by messages — which she found incriminating — flash upon his open computer screen. “It was the same girl from before,” she sighs, her voice trailing with residual disappointment.
Rudi concluded that Matt’s heart was not in the right place — “It probably never was,” she notes — and made a swift exit from their date, promising herself to exorcise her mind of any tumult their vacillating partnership had incited over the past year.
“He thought that if I found out that he actually had a girlfriend, I would not want to make music with him. That’s what he was using me for,” she says. “A few days later, I gave him a piece of my mind. I cut him off and it felt like I could breathe again. Now, without that toxic energy in my life, I’m empowered.”
Below, Rudi talks more with BachelorNation.com about saying goodbye to Matt for good, her “life-changing” experience on “Listen to Your Heart,” and how it reignited her passion for music following serious struggles in the industry.
When you look back on your time on “Listen to Your Heart,” how do you process the experience one year later?
The fact that it’s been just a little over a year makes me really emotional. It feels like it’s been a year, but it also feels like it was just yesterday. It was the most amazing, life-changing thing I have ever done. I’m very lucky to have been a part of it. No matter what I went through in my relationship with Matt, I look at the entire experience as a blessing. It helped me grow as a person and as an artist.
The show had such an interesting concept. How did you balance the romantic and the performance aspects simultaneously?
It was a lot to juggle. I focused on finding someone who I could do the experience with first. I didn’t know what Matt sounded like. I was just genuinely attracted to him — and without knowing anything about his voice. Initially, I thought we were going to hear everyone sing and get to pick a partner based off their voice. But it was just about picking someone based off our connection. I was focused on the connection part first and then prayed that my partner was a decent musician. Luckily, Matt and I meshed well on stage together — even if that wasn’t really the case off camera or off stage.
You said that you “dated all of L.A.” prior to coming on the show. How would you describe your dating history before appearing on “Listen to Your Heart”?
In L.A., it’s so hard to find a genuine connection with someone. I’m on all the dating apps and I’m the type of person who, even if I get my heart broken 800 times, I’m still open to love. I’m that silly girl who’s just like, “Oh, well, the next guy won’t do it to me.” I’ve been on so many dates, it’s embarrassing. Usually, if a guy slides into my DMs, the first thing I say is, “Look, I don’t want to chit-chat. I just want to go out and see if we have anything. Let’s go grab coffee. Let’s go get a drink.” I did that with all of L.A. and that’s not an exaggeration. Like, if any guy from L.A. is reading this, they’d be like, “Oh, yeah, I took Rudi out on a date.” And I just didn’t have any luck.
On the show, you said you had never dated a musician. After going on “Listen to Your Heart” and pursuing a relationship with Matt, would you ever date a musician again?
I realize that the reason I never dated one is exactly why I will never date one again. Musicians are a different type of douche in my opinion. No offense to musicians! I can be a douche myself, so I don’t want to date another me. I need someone who is calm, who has a normal job, and is not all about being in the spotlight. It’s just not for me. I like the low-key type of guy. Musician guys are a little cringey. They want to be the center of attention. I’m sorry, but that’s my job.
You were never afraid to speak your mind on the show. You wasted no time calling Matt out when he asked Mel to go on a date with him after leading you on. Why was it important for you to confront him in that moment?
I’ve always been the type of person to speak up for myself. I know a lot of girls are kind of hesitant to speak their mind because they’re afraid of looking “crazy.” I have so many girlfriends who I tell, “If that’s how you feel, don’t let a guy do something like that to you.” So, in the moment, I wasn’t even thinking. That was just my natural reaction and that’s how I will always react to anyone who I think is trying to f--k me over.
As Matt described it, you “chopped” him up with your words. While it was certainly entertaining, I imagine it was empowering for other women to see you handle the situation so boldly. Looking back, what do you hope the takeaway was for female viewers?
Great question. I just reacted how Rudi would react and hoped that girls could see me and be like, “That was badass of her to stick up for herself and she was not afraid of looking ‘crazy.’ She just told the guy how she felt, and she called him out for his s--t.” I have little sisters and I hope that if a guy screws them over, they’re going to be the ones who immediately say, “You don’t do that to me, sweetie! You’re not going to get away with it.” I got so many DMs after that scene, saying things like, “Thank you so much for standing up for yourself. You empowered me.” That meant the world to me because I was really scared of people interpreting that moment as, “Oh, Rudi is a crazy bitch.” I feel like the majority of girls saw that and it helped them. Thy were able to tell me, “You gave me the confidence to speak my mind and not be afraid even if this guy looks at me like I’m ‘crazy.’” I wanted to respond to everyone and be like, “Yes, queen, you tell him! You tell him what’s up!” I feel like that’s what I did, and I love that. I know I’m “a lot” — but a lot of good, too.
When you watched Matt’s reaction to that interaction play back, what went through your head? How do you think he absorbed your sentiments?
If you own up to it immediately, the spice level will come down. But if you’re going to look at me and play dumb, that’s when I’m going to get even more rowdy and that’s what you don’t want. He pissed me off. And when he complained about getting “chopped up,” I was like, “Yeah, you just got chopped up into 10 freaking pieces because you were trying to sit there and act like you didn’t do s--t.” That’s what bugged me. If you can accept that you messed up and you can apologize, then immediately I’m cool. But that’s not what he did, so he got the rowdier version of me.
There were ups and downs throughout your relationship with Matt. Viewers connected with your story because it seemed to mirror a real relationship. What did the relationship mean to you then? And what does it mean to you now that it’s over?
We ended up going home but we still cared about each other. I was thinking that we were going to give it another try and that didn’t work out. So, we stayed friends. His friendship and the relationship meant a lot to me. I hadn’t felt that way about someone in a while. So, a year later, the way that he’s decided to handle our relationship, even just as friends, has not been OK. I haven’t said one word to him for nearly four months now. We are completely out of each other’s lives. He texts me every month, asking to talk to me. Why would I even give someone that shot again when he can’t even be a friend to me? So, we’re not on speaking terms, unfortunately. This is the longest that I’ve gone without talking to him.
When you went over to Matt’s place for dinner in February, how did you define your relationship?
We were just friends, but we did have chemistry. I was also dating at the time — and that’s my problem with this whole thing. We were such good friends. He knew everything that I was doing. I was open with him about my dating. He could have had his cake and eaten it, too. He could have been honest with me the way I was honest with him. Why was he hiding that from me this entire time? If he had just been honest from the get-go, it would have sucked for a little bit — but I would have been grateful for his honesty. We would have probably been friends making music together today. All he wound up doing is screwing himself, screwing me, and now I’ll never be in his life again. And, still, every month, he texts me a long message: “Please, I just want to make sure you’re OK. I miss you.” I’m like, “I’m fine. Go look at my Instagram. Watch my Stories.”
Is there any chance of being friends again?
(Laughs) No. I wouldn’t say that I fully forgive him. Obviously, I’m still salty about the whole thing because it wasn’t just a day of lying. It was a whole year. And it wasn’t just a relationship as a boyfriend. He felt like my best friend. Not saying that I wouldn’t forgive him, but I don’t have time for people like that in my life.
How have your experiences with Matt impacted your outlook on love?
I ignore red flags. I want to have someone to share my life with. So, when I find someone that I like, I ignore those red flags and act like they’re not there because I want to have a partner. They’re red flags but I’d rather have someone by my side than be alone. I’ve learned that I really need to take it slow as much as I can with my emotions and pay attention to signs. I have very good gut instincts. I know when something’s off. If I could just listen to my gut a little bit more and not be so afraid of being alone, then I will find that great guy one day. But if I just keep settling for dudes who are throwing me red flags left and right, then I’m just going to be unhappy. I know what I have to do moving forward.
Relationship drama aside, you had so many incredible musical moments on “Listen to Your Heart.” What was your favorite?
During the first episode, they played a clip of me singing my own song called “Smile,” and that was just so incredible. Producers called me and told me the day of and were like, “Hey, your song ‘Smile,’ we want to use a little snippet.” I was like, “My song that I wrote? No way!” When it aired, my whole family and I lost it. It was the most incredible feeling. I wrote that song about my grandma and she passed away, unfortunately, two months before it aired. Having that moment play during the first episode was amazing. And, of course, I loved every performance. We had so much fun. But I think hearing “Smile” on the show, for me, was the most special moment.
You also developed strong friendships on the show, which I’m sure was a highlight of your experience.
I don’t have a lot of girlfriends. So, to be able to come off the show and keep some really good girlfriends in my life has been the coolest thing ever. I live with Julia [Rae] now in L.A. We’re roommates. Julia, Jamie [Gabrielle], and I were — and still are — really close. It’s been a lot of fun living with Julia. I’ve never lived with someone who I like. We’ll go on double dates together and have girls’ nights. It’s been awesome and she’s great. She’s so hilarious. The friendships that I made on the show are so special. A big reason to be grateful to “Listen to Your Heart.”
Can you tell me about your experience in the industry before coming on the show?
Six months before “Listen to Your Heart,” I had just gotten out of a bad contract I signed at 15. From 15 to almost 24, I was in a terrible contract with no voice or creative say with a bad manager. I was this robot doing whatever I was told to sing — a lot of bubblegum pop. I had to dress a certain way, I had to do my hair a certain way. I was a robot for nearly a decade. At first, it didn’t seem bad. It was fun because I was young. I had signed with someone who had Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato and all these Disney stars under her belt. I was supposed to be the next one. So, at first, I was super excited and ready. As years went on and nothing was happening, I asked myself, “What am I doing? I’m 18 now. Three years have gone by, and nothing really has happened.”
I had gotten an offer from Universal Music when I was 15. I showcased in front of the top people at Universal and they had offered me a deal and [my manager] was like, “OK, well, if you want her, then sign my son who’s 30 years old.” My manager would try and tack him on to whatever I was doing. I didn’t know it until later on. When I was 19, one of the label guys told me, “You’d have a deal by now if she wasn’t trying to tag her son along.” I signed with her again as an adult at 18 because my parents trusted her as family, and we didn’t know anyone else in the industry.
How did you get out of the contract?
I finally found a lawyer to look at the contract and they told me, “This contract is s--t. First of all, you’ve been out of this contract for two years!” We were at a restaurant and my mom brought the papers to me and I just started bawling. I couldn’t even control myself. I was so emotional.
Had you given up on music at that point?
Yes. I moved back home to Texas from Los Angeles. My parents own a body shop and I told them, “I’m done with music. I am going to work with you at the shop. Get me a freaking job. I’m done.” I had no interest in singing again. It didn’t make me happy. I was miserable and fed up with everything. I was tired. But my mom was like, “Rudi, now that you’re out of the contract, just go try again. You love this! Go try!” I pushed back and she told me, “Rudi, go for a year by yourself and if nothing happens, you have a place here and you know that. But go. You’re not going to be happy working at a desk. That’s what you want?” I was like, “I don’t care.” She said, “Go one year. If nothing happens, you can come back home.” So, I go and in two months, I get a call for “Listen to Your Heart.”
Did the show revive your love for music?
One hundred percent. If it wasn’t for that, I don’t know where I would be. Even though I got screwed over, that helped me write again. I found a love for performing again, singing on stage, and being in front of an audience. If it wasn’t for that show coming into my life when it did, I would probably be cleaning tires right now. (Laughs)
How would you describe yourself as an artist today?
When I was in my contract, I was stuck in this little bubble. For the longest time, I wasn’t even allowed to write. I thought I had to sing a certain way. I thought I had to act a certain way. And after the show, I started becoming my own person and my own artist. When I write, sometimes it’s really pop and sometimes it’s more R&B. And sometimes it’s more indie. As a person, I am who I am. With my music, it’s the same thing. I write how I feel and that’s what makes me feel good, not having any boundaries and sticking to one sound. But my voice is consistent. I’m an R&B soulful singer at heart. Other than that, I’m all over the place — as a human and as an artist. And I think that’s a cool thing.
What are your goals in the industry?
I want to tour so bad. That’s been a dream of mine for forever. Performing is my favorite part of what I do. If I can get a big enough fan base to do any type of tour, that would be incredible. It doesn’t even have to be the Red Rocks in Colorado. The House of Blues would work! Just something where I could do a little tour. And then, also, releasing an album. I’ve been wanting to do that forever.
You developed a fervent new fan base through the show. How would you describe your relationship with Bachelor Nation?
I went on this show thinking that I would be in the background. To me, I’ve never seen myself as your typical “Bachelor” girl. I didn’t think the fans were going to take to me. If anything, I thought the fans would think I’m insane. Getting the love that I got was so unexpected. I have a really solid group of people who are Team Rudi. They will f--king ride for me. They got my back. It’s these hardcore Rudi people who have become a family, who I talk to on a daily basis. It’s the most incredible thing. And then people are like, “I wanna see Rudi on ‘Bachelor in Paradise’!” That’s crazy to me! But I’ll take it. I love the fans.