It’s official: ABC’s The Bachelorette has just made history by casting it’s first-ever African-American lead in its 14-year history. Thirty-one-year-old attorney Rachel Lindsay will reportedly be the new leading lady on the dating show’s 13th season.
The historic news was announced on Monday’s (Feb. 13) episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live! Traditionally, ABC makes the announcement for the next Bachelorette after its brother show, The Bachelor concludes, but this year, the network chose to share the news beforehand.
— Jimmy Kimmel (@jimmykimmel) February 14, 2017
“I’m happy to represent myself as a black woman in front of America and I’m happy for America to rally behind me and see what it’s like for me to be on this journey to find love,” Lindsay told People. While Lindsay recognizes how monumental the announcement is, she doesn’t think her race will alter the show in any way. “Honestly, it’s not going to be that different from any other season of The Bachelorette,” she said. “I’m obviously nervous and excited to take on this opportunity but I don’t feel added pressure being the first black Bachelorette, because to me I’m just a black woman trying to find love. Yes, I’m doing it on this huge stage, but again my journey of love isn’t any different just because my skin color is.”
The Texan was originally a contestant on The Bachelor’s 21st season. Although she ultimately lost the competition, Lindsay managed to win over millions of hearts with her charm and wits. She is taking the lead after years of controversy surrounding the lack of diversity on the dating franchise. ABC Entertainment Group president Channing Dungery, initially told the press at the 2016 Television Critics Association summer tour that the issue was with booking at the start of the show since the lead is usually a popular contestant from a previous season. The new bachelorette is another game-changer for The Bachelor franchise, who only cast their first male lead in Sept. 2015. It’s great to see ABC finally diversifying its casting process.