"We still don't have the diversity that this show needs, and that our audience deserves," Rachel Lindsay said

By Robyn Merrett
June 09, 2020 08:33 PM
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Rachel Lindsay says the Bachelor franchise must address its lack of diversity in lead roles - and acknowledge its "systematic racism."

After making headlines earlier this month (during an interview with AfterBuzz) for saying she wouldn't want to continue in the franchise if changes aren't made, Lindsay, 35, further elaborated on her stance in a lengthy post to her website on Monday.

Lindsay, who is the first and only black lead in the history of the ABC franchise, shared why she wanted to "fully explain why I've come to this decision."

"You have often heard me say in interviews that I never watched any Bachelor franchise show prior to being a contestant on it. It is not because I am not a fan of reality television, because I watch a good share of that on the weekly. It is because black people know historically and presently that the show is not formatted for their success," Lindsay began.

Rachel Lindsay
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty

Lindsay explained that she thought when she was cast that she would be the change the show needed.

"I knew that I wanted to be a trailblazer in this franchise to diversify the lead role, to diversify the contestants trying out and casted for the show, and to diversify the audience watching this show," Lindsay continued.

"I am sad to say that after almost four years in this franchise, we still don't have the diversity that this show needs, and that our audience deserves," she wrote.

ABC has not commented on Lindsay's post.

While Lindsay admitted that "more diverse contestants do appear on the show now," she feels "people of color become placeholders as the token person of color to add some flavor to the second half of the season."

She also addressed that her feelings are not new, sharing that she has called out the Bachelor franchise on many occasions and has "always been vocal about the problematic behavior of the franchise and their failure to address their diversity issues."

"I stayed with the franchise to be a voice on the inside to push for change," Lindsay wrote before listing the ways she's spoken out.

Bryan Abasolo and Rachel Lindsay
Randy Holmes/Getty Images

Lindsay shared that in 2018, "I called out the franchise for creating an emotionally charged finale that baited me for three hours and labeled me as an angry black female."

She went on to say that in 2019, she also slammed the show's decision to chose Peter Weber over Mike Johnson as the Bachelor lead, despite Johnson having checked "all the boxes."

The former Bachelorette further shared that she was "not hopeful" of the franchise choosing another black Bachelorette — even after "Tayshia [Adams] was number three [of Colton Underwood's contestants]."

"And in 2020, I stated, 'My biggest complaint is that the show does not reflect what the real world looks like,' " Lindsay said of her comments during an interview with the Associated Press.

As for how the franchise can change, Lindsay suggested they "cast leads that are truly interested in dating outside of their race."

She went on to encourage the franchise to "stop making excuses for the lack of diversity and take action to rectify the problem" and "diversify producers on the show to make your contestants of color feel more comfortable."

"Stop creating problematic story lines for people of color," added Lindsay, who wed Bryan Abasolo in August.

Concluding her post, Lindsay urged the franchise to "make a statement acknowledging their systemic racism."

Lindsay's post comes on the heels of fans rallying around a new petition that calls on ABC and executive producer Mike Fleiss to cast more people of color.

The petition, which has garnered over 47,000 signatures as of Tuesday morning, called the franchise's lack of diversity "unacceptable" and noted that in 40 seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, Lindsay has been the only black lead. (Johnson was a contender to become the first-ever black Bachelor last season, but Weber, who is half-Cuban, got the gig.)

"Representation matters, and it is one of the most important ways our country can embrace its diversity and evolve," the petition states.

The campaign features 13 calls to action, including casting a black lead for season 25 of The Bachelor, as well as casting BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) for "at least 35% of contestants" and giving them equitable screen time.

Next, the campaign asks the show to begin "actively supporting" the BIPOC contestants with mental health resources, hire a BIPOC diversity consultant, condemn racism and pay attention to stereotypes, and vet all new contestants to prevent those with "promoted prejudice" being cast.

The petition's final call to action asks the show to "issue a public statement apologizing for enabling systemic racism within the franchise and offer a clear plan for demonstrable anti-racism efforts moving forward."

Many Bachelor Nation cast members have signed and shared the petition on social media, including Lindsay, Nick Viall, Olivia Caridi, Kaitlyn Bristowe, Lauren Burnham, Tyler Cameron and Ashley Spivey.