The first black "Bachelorette": After 12 seasons, ABC casts a woman of color as its lead

Texas attorney Rachel Lindsay is the result of a years-long battle to cast more people of color

Published February 14, 2017 12:30AM (EST)


Following cries for more diversity on the small screen, ABC has reportedly cast its first black lead in the reality dating show “The Bachelorette.” According to The Hollywood Reporter, Texas attorney Rachel Lindsay will search for her soulmate on the show’s 13th season.

Casting Lindsay as the show’s hopeful is likely the result of a years-long battle for more people of color as both daters and leads seeking their future husband or wife. Current “Bachelorette” suitor JoJo Fletcher is biracial -- half white and half Filipina – but many seasons don’t feature any contestants of color. In 2011, every eligible partner on the “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” was white, Salon previously reported.

Further, Fusion reported, a black contestant has never lasted longer than five weeks on either show. Fifty-nine percent of black contestants leave the shows within two weeks and the average season of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” lasts 10 weeks. Both shows offer “an absurd number of examples” when it comes to marginalizing non-white people, Salon continued.

In 2012, bachelorette Emily Maynard sent home Lerone Anu, a hunky real estate developer, during the first episode. Life and Style magazine hypothesized that the problem was a clash of personalities (the mag “[didn’t] see his personality meshing well with Emily’s”), but they barely exchanged words. Lerone got a handful of lines—at most—before he was ousted.

That same year, ABC was slapped with a racial discrimination suit which alleged that producers “knowingly, intentionally, and as a matter of corporate policy refused to cast people of color in the role of ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette.’” The court ultimately sided with ABC on First Amendment grounds and in 2013, a combined 12 people of color were featured on both series.

“Since then, the show has more or less gone back to normal,” Salon wrote.

Lindsay is a current contestant on “The Bachelor,” so here’s to hoping that her second chance at finding true love is more successful. This is the first time a “Bachelorette” contestant – which are regularly drawn from discarded daters on “The Bachelor” -- has been announced while the show is still on air.

By Jessica Lipsky

Jessica Lipsky is a cover editor at Salon.

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Diversity Media Racism The Bachelorette