There’s always more to be done. Rachel Lindsay’s response to The Bachelor’s first black lead casting decision just goes to show that there are many ways for the franchise to be even more inclusive—and it starts behind-the-scenes. The 35-year-old Bachelorette alum spoke to Hollywood Life about her expectations from the reality dating series moving forward.
“I want producers of color,” she told the outlet on June 12. “I would like for them to cast leads that are interested in dating outside of their race, that aren’t just getting their experience for the first time on national TV. I need the acknowledgment of that, not putting a Band-Aid over the situation and just saying, ‘Here, we’re gonna put this here, are you happy now?'”
Lindsay has been vocal about The Bachelor franchise’s lack of diversity in the past. While the reality star and attorney has one of the few success stories in Bachelorette history (she is still married to Season 13 winner, Bryan Abasolo), she has also taken issue with producers for not investing in inclusive “changes,” she told GMA.
One change finally came to the franchise when ABC announced that Matt James, 28, would be The Bachelor‘s next lead for Season 25. While casting James feels like a start, it’s also hard not to see Lindsay’s point about this decision being a temporary response to ongoing conversations about racism and representation.
ABC’s Head of Alternative Programming, Rob Mills, claims that the decision to cast James was something The Bachelor team was “thinking about” for months, as per Variety. The real estate agent and non-profit organizer is pals with Bachelorette alum Tyler Cameron, and was already expected to participate in Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette. According to Mills, “We were thinking, do we announce him early, or do we put him on Clare’s season and then announce him later, if it doesn’t work out with Clare? We didn’t make a final decision until recently, but this has been talked about for quite some time.”
The executive maintains that the casting decision “wasn’t a response” to Lindsay’s recent criticisms of the franchise. “We could have made this announcement earlier or later,” he told the outlet, before conceding, “Certainly no one is blind to what is happening in the world, so hopefully this announcement serves as a bit of optimism during a time that we can really use this, but I don’t want this to look like we’re patting ourselves on the back or taking a victory lap.”
Well, let’s see what The Bachelor does about recruiting Black producers and cast members next. We’ll talk then!