There have been 33 combined seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, and in that time there have been exactly zero black leads. Last night, Jimmy Kimmel introduced us to next season’s star, Rachel Lindsay, a Texas attorney who just made history as the first African-American Bachelorette.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, ABC broke with tradition to announce Lindsay’s role before the season finale of Nick Viall's The Bachelor, on which she is a contestant. Not the winner, obviously, but it all worked out fine.
The show has gotten more and more criticism for its lack of diversity, and claimed that because fans like being involved in picking the next Bachelor or Bachelorette, they were having trouble breaking the cycle of white. Viall’s season was the most diverse so far, with 22 white and eight non-white contestants. By comparison, 2015's Bachelor season with Chris Soules had only one POC contestant.
Lindsay is well aware of the barrier she’s breaking in popular culture. Speaking with People, she said, “I’m happy to represent myself as a black woman in front of America and I’m happy for America to rally behind me and see what it’s like for me to be on this journey to find love,” continuing, “Honestly, it’s not going to be that different from any other season of The Bachelorette.”
Of course not! Like all the bachelorettes, Lindsay is just a cool lady looking for her perfect fit.
“I’m obviously nervous and excited to take on this opportunity but I don’t feel added pressure being the first black bachelorette, because to me I’m just a black woman trying to find love,” she says, “Yes, I’m doing it on this huge stage, but again my journey of love isn’t any different just because my skin color is.”
And that’s why representation is so important.