ABC has cast Rachel Lindsay as the next “Bachelorette,” marking the first time an African-American will star in the leading role in the popular franchise.
Reality Steve reported that Lindsay would be named the next “Bachelorette” on Monday night’s episode “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” after series creator Mike Fleiss tweeted that a “historic” announcement will be made. The announcement was made official on the ABC late-night show.
The 13th season of “The Bachelorette” will premiere on May 22 on ABC.
“We’re thrilled to have Rachel Lindsay as our next Bachelorette,” Robert Mills, senior vice president of alternative series, specials and late night for ABC, said in a statement. “This coveted role is always reserved for a fan-favorite from the previous season, and Rachel is no exception and has been the fan’s choice since she exited the limo. She is an accomplished, confident and beautiful woman who knows what she wants in life. We all look forward to joining her on the joyous journey as she looks for that one special man.”
The 31-year-old attorney from Dallas, Texas, was a clear frontrunner on Nick Viall’s season of “The Bachelor” — she scored the First Impression Rose during the show’s premiere and Viall broke several rules with her when he told her how he felt about her. However, with Lindsay’s casting as the next “Bachelorette,” we can assume she doesn’t win Viall’s final rose, although she is still currently on the show.
TV’s most successful dating series has been criticized for years for its lack of diversity among both the leads and the 25 contestants who vie for their affections.
As TheWrap reported last year, even when non-white contestants are cast, they seldom go very far. As documented by Karen X. Cheng, a blogger who also makes commercials for brands like Beats By Dre. In fact, no black contestant has ever made it past Week 5 in the first 20 seasons.
In Ben Higgins’ season, he sent home Jubilee Sharpe in the fifth week. Chris Soules sent home Amber James in week three of 2015’s season. And in 2013 and 2014, Sean Lowe and Juan Pablo Galavis send home African-American contestants in the show’s fifth week. According to Fusion, 59 percent of all black contestants leave the show within two weeks.
Though 2014’s “Bachelor” Galavis was Venezuelan-American, there still hadn’t been an African-American or Asian “Bachelor” or “Bachelorette” in 32 seasons of the franchise — until now.
“The Bachelor” already made history last week as Lindsay made it through the fifth week rose ceremony, a time notorious for eliminating African-American suitors. Jasmine G., the other African-American contestant on the show, made it past the fifth week rose ceremony but was eliminated on a group date in this week’s episode.
Viall’s season is actually one of the most diverse yet, starting with 10 non-Caucasian contestants — at the beginning of the show, the two-time runner-up had at least five African-American suitors. Two were sent home at the first rose ceremony, while Dominique made it to episode three.