Article by Alexandra Hernandez | esPResso Contributing Writer
After 33 combined seasons of The Bachelor/The Bachelorette, ABC has cast its first black lead. It has been announced that Rachel Lindsay, 31-year-old attorney from Texas currently competing for Nick Viall’s heart on the 21st season of The Bachelor, will star as the 13th Bachelorette. Viewers were shocked to find out the news so early due to the amount of chemistry between Nick and first impression rose-winner Rachel, but she has received nothing but positive press and support from Bachelor fandom.
Viall appeared on Ellen Degeneres’ daytime show to discuss the big reveal. He exclaimed: “I’m very excited for her. I think she’s going to be an amazing Bachelorette,” while Degeneres agreed “I think she’s going to be great. She’s adorable and I’m very happy for her.”
For years ABC has faced heavy criticism for failing to incorporate diversity into the Bachelor franchise. Current ABC president Rachel Dungy, the first black woman to head the network, answered questions regarding the topic during the Television Critics Association Press Tour last summer. She said she would “very much like to see some changes,” and plans to continue diversifying the series by increasing the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning of each season. Series host Chris Harrison addressed typical franchise casting by saying, “this isn’t a black or white issue, it’s ‘Let’s find the best person to be the Bachelor or Bachelorette…I don’t care what anyone looks like.” Still, he acknowledged the network’s recent efforts to diversify within casting. Viall’s pool of candidates ultimately represented women of various races, ethnicities, and cultural backgrounds.
“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,” Rachel Lindsay told PEOPLE magazine. She claims that it will not be much different from any other season of The Bachelorette.
Bachelor Nation anxiously awaits Rachel’s departure from The Bachelor: will she fail to receive a rose or will a mishap occur on the hometown date? Tune in Mondays 8 pm EST, and catch Rachel in The Bachelorette premiere on May 22nd.