Rachel Lindsay shared all the inside details of her experience being a part of The Bachelor franchise and the unique difficulties that came with being Black on a show that notoriously struggles with diversity.
Rachel revealed that she really didn’t know much about The Bachelor before signing up. It was her legal colleagues who pushed her to join the show and, deciding to take more risks than she usually had before, Rachel agreed to audition.
Once Rachel was chosen to be a contestant on The Bachelor, she figured she’d finally watch the show for the first time to see what it was all about, and she didn’t like what she saw.
In an Op-Ed published by Vulture, Rachel felt the women’s behavior was catty and the dates were cheesy. She tried to pull out of the show, fearing she would no longer have respect in the legal field, but she had already signed a contract.
Rachel almost wasn’t the historic Bachelorette
While Rachel made it far on The Bachelor, she was eventually sent home. A producer allegedly approached her about being The Bachelorette just 24 hours after Rachel had left the show and Rachel turned down the offer, feeling that being The Bachelorette could cost her identity and her job.
However, she became motivated to rethink that decision while at church. A mother approached her and told her how much it meant for her Black daughter to see a Black woman who looks like her thrive on the show.
At that point, Rachel realized that her being the first Black Bachelorette could have a lot of impact and so she agreed to sign-on as the lead.
Being the first to do something is often a lonely road and Rachel felt very alone as The Bachelorette. There weren’t many people around that could fully relate and understand Rachel’s feelings and the challenges she faced as a Black woman.
Rachel took issue with how few men of color there were on her season, stating that they had to ration the black men she kept in order to continue to appear diverse. Rachel is quoted as saying, “You have no idea what it feels like to be the first person representing Black people to your lily-white audience.”
Not only is the cast of The Bachelor franchise usually predominantly white, the audience is also not the most diverse and the toxicity within the fandom both drained and deeply disappointed Rachel.
When the women of color on Peter’s season were receiving racially charged hate online, Rachel returned to national television to address the toxic aspects of the fandom directly. Over time, Rachel became eager to be done with the franchise due to the increase in bullying and misrepresentation of people of color on the cast.
Rachel seeing The Bachelor alum Mike Johnson get snubbed was the final straw
Rachel was already frustrated with the series and its complete mishandling of diversity. Still, the final straw was when Peter Weber was selected to be the Bachelor over fan-favorite Mike Johnson.
Rachel, like many fans on the internet, felt Mike would be the perfect choice as the next Bachelor and yet the franchise continued on with its selection of mostly white men. The franchise overlooking Mike is what provoked Rachel to get more outspoken about the issues within the franchise even despite facing backlash for using her voice.
On various occasions, Rachel used her platform to challenge the series to be better and progress. Rachel’s voice and influence was most visible when her interview with Chris Harrison, regarding Rachel Kirkconnell’s racially insensitive past, played a large part in Chris Harrison’s shocking exit from the franchise after hosting for 19 years.
“Recently, during the drama with Matt’s season, I listened to an earlier episode of Bachelor Happy Hour, another podcast I co-hosted,” Rachel explained as her reason for walking away. “I was surprised to hear myself having fun because now I sound as tired as I am. After 100 episodes, I announced my departure from that podcast. I’m exhausted from defending myself against a toxic fandom.”
Rachel may be done with the franchise but she does plan to “cautiously” watch upcoming Black Bachelorette, Michelle Young’s season.
Having endured the many challenges of being a Black Bachelorette in front of a fandom that can’t always relate, understand, or empathize with her experience, Rachel feels it’s important to support Michelle Young as she too tries to fall in love on a series that continues to struggle with uplifting Black leads.
The Bachelorette airs Mondays at 8/7c on ABC.