Why did it take 16 years to cast first black ‘Bachelorette’?


The bachelorette

“The Bachelorette,” one of the most popular reality television programs in the U.S., recently cast an African-American lead.

Many people are raising the question of why it took so long – 16 years, to be exact.

According to BBC News, Monday night’s announcement of the show’s newest lead was, in the words of its producer Mike Fleiss, “historic.” The reveal of the Bachelorette, which was announced on Jimmy Kimmel Live, got positive feedback from Twitter users, causing the site to go “wild.”

Thirty-one-year-old lawyer Rachel Lindsay is the ABC franchise’s first black Bachelorette in the series’ 33 seasons. Lindsay is a civil litigation lawyer and the daughter of Sam Lindsay, who was nominated by President Bill Clinton to be a federal judge in Texas. The Dallas lawyer was first seen in season 21 with Nick Viall.

While on the show, she represented herself with the utmost class and sophistication. The reveal of Rachel Lindsay resulted in the trending hashtag #BlackBachelorette.

In the meantime, Lindsay’s Twitter following nearly doubled (@ therachlindsay) and within a matter of moments there were more than 36,000 Twitter mentions of Rachel. America’s most popular reality TV dating show franchise received praise and support for Lindsay. However, not everyone was pleased at how long it took.

“And it only took 16 years,” one Twitter user wrote. “We had a black president before we had a black bachelor/bachelorette.”

Lindsay became the topic of interest after being the only black female contestant to make it to the top four on “The Bachelor.”

In 2012, two potential black contestants brought a lawsuit against the franchise for under-representing minorities. According to BBC News, the suit alleged that ABC deliberately cast fewer people of colour in the pool of contestants and was nervous that interracial romance may “create controversy among its audience.”

In addressing questions about the show’s lack of diversity in the past, host Chris Harrison said the show’s producers would never pick its lead for race-related reasons.

“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,” Lindsay said in an interview for People magazine. “Yes, I’m doing it on this huge stage, but again my journey of love isn’t any different just because my skin colour is.”

Lindsay will not only be the first African-American woman to lead the Bachelorette but the first black lead on either of ABC’s reality dating competitions.