ABC just cast its first Black “Bachelor,” but former “Bachelorette” Rachel Lindsay knows the show has more work to do when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
Lindsay, an attorney who made history as the franchise’s first Black lead in 2017, appeared Wednesday on Andy Cohen’s “Watch What Happens Live,” where she opened up about the racism she experienced from the “Bachelorette” audience and from a contestant on the dating program.
“I definitely experienced it more so when it came to picking the men,” she said. “And then at the end, my husband is Colombian, and so I got a lot of racism towards the fact that we were in an interracial relationship. Just a lot of nasty messages, trolling.”
The 13th season of “The Bachelorette” saw Lindsay get engaged to winner Bryan Abasolo. The pair have been married since 2019.
To ensure a safer environment for future Black cast members, including Season 25 leading man Matt James, Lindsay called for a stronger “vetting” process when scouting talent for the show.
“I did have a racist contestant on my season,” she told Cohen and fellow guest, Sen. Cory Booker. “You need a person of color in the decision room making decisions so that doesn’t happen to them.”
Earlier this month, Lindsay threatened to cut ties with the popular franchise unless it underwent a “diversity makeover.” That same week, ABC unveiled James as the first Black lead of “The Bachelor” after 18 years and 40 seasons.
“It’s a step in the right direction,” James told “Good Morning America” when his casting was announced. “When Rachel speaks, we listen. She has a very important voice in all of this, being the first Black woman/person of color to have a lead. So I think that we’re all following suit in that conversation, and this is hopefully the first ... of many Black men to be in the position that I’m at now.”
Lindsay also celebrated the historic moment, but challenged the production team to work harder behind the scenes in addition to increasing representation in front of the camera.
“I want producers of color. I want for them to cast leads that are interested in dating outside of their race — that aren’t just getting their first-time experience for the first time on national TV,” she said on “GMA” last week. “I need the acknowledgment of that — not putting a Band-Aid over the situation and just saying, ‘Here, we’re going to put this here. Are you happy now?’”
The 25th season of “The Bachelor” is set to premiere in 2021.