After 33 combined seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, ABC has cast its first black lead.
Rachel Lindsay, a Texas attorney, and current contestant on Nick Viall’s The Bachelor, will be announced as the next Bachelorette on Monday’s Jimmy Kimmel Live! The star of the next cycle is usually announced after the current season wraps, but ABC is breaking tradition by revealing the news weeks before the finale.
The network declined to comment. News of Lindsay’s casting was first reported by the Reality Steve website.
Lindsay is becoming the Bachelorette after years of controversy surrounding the long-running reality dating franchise. ABC executives have come under fire over the series’ lack of diversity, as the starring roles have almost exclusively gone to white leads on both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
ABC Entertainment Group president Channing Dungey, the first African-American woman to run a broadcast entertainment division, told reporters at the 2016 Television Critics Association’s summer press tour that the issue lies with booking more diverse candidates from the start of the show, since the Bachelor or Bachelorette is usually a popular contestant picked from the previous cycle.
“It’s worked very well for us because the audiences feel really engaged [in choosing] that candidate” she said of the process. “What we’d like to do is broaden that. We need to increase the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning. That is something we really want to put some effort and energy toward.”