The upcoming season of The Bachelorette will be the first of the Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise to cast a person of color, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Texas attorney Rachel Lindsay will be announced as the next Bachelorette on Monday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live, despite still being in the running on the show, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Typically, the casting of the next cycle is announced after the current season wraps.
News of Lindsay’s casting was first reported by the Reality Steve website, which reported that Lindsay made the Top 3.
Years of controversy has swirled around the lack of diversity in the 33 combined seasons of the long-running ABC dating show. 2014 featured the only diverse Bachelor in the franchise’s history, with American-born Venezuelan Juan Pablo Galavis. Initially, last year’s The Bachelorette seemed ready to cast its first Asian lead when Caila Quinn, who is half-white and half-Filipino, was spotted with a film crew in her Ohio hometown. In a last-minute decision, however, fan favorite JoJo Fletcher, whose mother is Persian and father was born and raised in Tennessee, was cast instead.
ABC entertainment president Channing Dungey, the first African-American woman to run a broadcast entertainment division, told reporters at the 2016 Television Critics Association’s summer press tour that the problem lies with booking the shows with diverse candidates to start, since the Bachelor and Bachelorette are popular contestants from the previous cycle.
“It’s worked very well for us because the audiences feel really engaged [in choosing] that candidate” she said of the process. “What we’d like to do is broaden that. We need to increase the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning. That is something we really want to put some effort and energy toward.”
Indeed, this latest season of The Bachelor, featuring Nick Viall, included eight nonwhite contestants. Those with a sharp eye could see this coming. While contestants of color are often eliminated in the first few weeks of the show, Rachel was awarded a “first impression” rose by Nick. An indication that she was in it for the long haul.
Jimmy Kimmel introduces Rachel Lindsay