It’s official: For the first time ever, we’re getting a black Bachelorette. Reports that current Bachelor contestant Rachel Lindsay would be the next lead on the reality dating competition were confirmed on Monday night, with Bachelor/Bachelorette host Chris Harrison helping make the announcement on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Lindsay, a lawyer from Texas, is currently a contestant on this season of The Bachelor, which is still airing, so the announcement means she’s not this season’s winner. “I guess it’s safe to say your hometown date with Nick [Viall] did not go as planned?” asked Kimmel, to which Lindsay shrugged.
“I’m ready to find love, find a husband,” said Lindsay. “So if you know anybody out there who needs to apply, sign up.”
Lindsay says she was approached for the job shortly after exiting The Bachelor and joked that she originally thought the offer was a consolation prize “for the heartbreak.” The decision to announce Linday’s casting weeks before the finale of the current Bachelor season, while she is still on the show, is an unusual one, with the urgency perhaps motivated by the show’s controversial history with lack of diversity. In 2012, a judge dismissed a lawsuit against ABC and the producers of both Bachelor shows alleging that people of color were being deliberately excluded from the casting process and eliminated earlier than their white counterparts.
Lindsay will not only be the first black woman to lead the Bachelorette but the first black lead on either of ABC’s reality dating competitions. The Bachelor has also never had a black lead and has had only one lead of color, Juan Pablo Galavis, in 2014, making Lindsay’s appointment even more historic for the franchise. Even UnReal, the fictional Lifetime series about a Bachelor-style reality show, beat The Bachelorette to the punch last year when they put a black bachelor at the center of its fake dating competition, Everlasting.
ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey told Deadline in August that the show was laying the groundwork for a woman of color on the Bachelorette by diversifying the pool of candidates on The Bachelor, since the lead for one is usually chosen from among the other’s runners-up. And Dungey’s plan seems to have been successful, since Lindsay is a fan favorite on the current season with Viall, the most diverse ever.
“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,” Lindsay told People of the historic casting. “Honestly, it’s not going to be that different from any other season of The Bachelorette.”