Rachel Lindsay is calling on ABC producers to do more in an effort to change the Bachelor franchise for the better.
The former Bachelorette, who became the first black leading lady on the franchise in 2017, discussed the changes she’d like to see on the dating show after news on Friday that Matt James has been named the first black Bachelor in the show’s history.
Rachel said that as a trailblazer she was hoping to see more changes and an increase in diversity in the audience that watches the show.
‘In the last three years, there really haven’t been changes made,’ Rachel, 35, told GMA.
‘I want producers of color’: Rachel Lindsay is asking for more change from ABC producers after they named Matt James the first black Bachelor
‘I want producers of color. I’d like 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 went on to say she needs acknowledgement from ABC.
‘Not putting a band-aid over the situation and just saying, “Here, we’re going to put this here. Are you happy now?”‘ she explained.
Rachel spearheaded the campaign to drive change within the Bachelor franchise, saying she was embarrassed to be affiliated with it.
She told AfterBuzz TV’s Bachelor A.M. With Kelsey Meyer: ‘In 40 seasons, you’ve had one black lead. We have had 45 presidents and in 45 presidents, you have one black president.
Rachel said that she needs acknowledgement from ABC: ‘Not putting a band-aid over the situation and just saying, “Here, we’re going to put this here. Are you happy now?”‘ she explained.
‘You are almost on par to say you’re more likely to become the president of the United States than you are a black lead in this franchise. That’s insane. That’s ridiculous,’ Rachel added.
More than 85,000 fans and members of Bachelor Nation, including Rachel, signed a petition campaigning for ‘anti-racism in the Bachelor franchise’.
Days later, ABC announced Friday that the new season of The Bachelor will feature the show’s first ever black leading man.
The 6’5 28-year-old was named as the new lead for the popular reality franchise, and will feature in the 25th season of the hit show. But while he follows in the footsteps of dozens of other men, Matt is the first ever black Bachelor in the series’ 18-year history.
Movement: Rachel spearheaded the campaign to drive change within the Bachelor franchise, saying she was embarrassed to be affiliated with it
His casting comes in the wake of global protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, and amid a very public outcry over the lack of diversity and inclusivity in The Bachelor franchise – led by some of its former stars.
Matt, who is from North Carolina but now lives in New York City, was originally cast by ABC to star in the upcoming season of The Bachelorette, in which he features alongside several men vying to win the heart of former Bachelor star Clare Crawley.
Although the new star of the Bachelor is normally not chosen until after The Bachelorette has aired – with producers often selecting one of the most popular contestants – Matt’s casting appears to have been fast-tracked.
Love it! On Twitter the response to news of Matt being named Bachelor was very positive
Production of the latest season of The Bachelorette was actually put on hold amid the coronavirus pandemic, however producers announced on Friday that Matt had already proven himself to be the ‘perfect Bachelor’ and insisted that Matt was being considered long before the public outcry over the lack of black franchise leads in the past.
‘Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season. When filming couldn’t move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor,’ ABC Entertainment’s president Karey Burke told GMA.
Only the beginning: This user is optimistic that the move signals change
Workout: Matt, who is pals with Bachelor alum Tyler Cameron was buzzing after the announcement
‘We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we’re seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in, and we are proudly in service to our audience. This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise. We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.’
Rachel also appeared on Friday’s episode of The Ringer’s podcast Bachelor Party and said she felt the Matt announcement was rushed and wasn’t happy with Karey’s statement.
‘I wasn’t okay with the statement. It’s almost like, if that’s your statement, why haven’t we had a black Bachelor or another one of color. It all seems too rushed.’
Meanwhile, the Twitter reaction to the Bachelor news was hugely positive with former Bachelors including Sean Lowe tweeting their congratulations.
Provided filming of The Bachelor is able to go ahead as planned, Matt’s season will premiere in the spring of 2021.
The Bachelorette is set to return to ABC in the fall.
New direction: Former Bachelor Sean Lowe was happy to hear the news