The Bachelorette has announced its next star, and it’s a history-making pick for the ABC reality franchise. In an unprecedented move, Bachelorette host Chris Harrison made the announcement of the show’s next leading lady on Jimmy Kimmel Live weeks before the current cycle of The Bachelor ends.
Harrison revealed that 31-year-old Dallas attorney, Rachel Lindsay, will star as the next Bachelorette this summer. Lindsay, who hasn’t even been eliminated on Nick Viall’s season of The Bachelor yet, will headline the 13th season of the show and will be the first-ever African-American star of the ABC franchise.
— ABC Publicity (@ABC_Publicity) February 14, 2017
The announcement that Rachel Lindsay will be the new Bachelorette comes three years after the franchise cast its only non-white lead, Juan Pablo Galavis. The Latino soccer player starred in Season 18 of The Bachelor and was one of the show’s most controversial stars.
After Rachel Lindsay’s Bachelorette announcement was made, former Bachelor and Bachelorette stars hit social media to offer their congratulations to show’s newest leading lady, including last season’s star, JoJo Fletcher, who told Rachel she hopes she finds her unicorn.
— JoJo Fletcher (@JoelleFletcher) February 14, 2017
— Desiree Siegfried (@DesHartsock) February 14, 2017
If the rumors are true, congrats to Rachel on becoming the next Bachelorette. Black, white, whatever- she deserves it. #TheBachelorette
— Sean Lowe (@SeanLowe09) February 14, 2017
— Benjamin Higgins (@benhiggi) February 14, 2017
— Andi Dorfman (@AndiDorfman) February 14, 2017
On her Ali Luvs blog, former Bachelorette star Ali Fedotowsky weighed in on the choice to cast Rachel Lindsay in the coveted starring role. In her post, Fedotowsky revealed that all of the Bachelorette stars are close and she welcomed the newest ABC star into the exclusive group.
“Such a perfect choice as the new Bachelorette,” Ali wrote.
“And yes, I am very happy to see a little diversity join our family!!! Rachel said it best, her journey to find love will be no different just because the color of her skin is. I think this is such an exciting time for the franchise and I will be watching her on her quest to find the one!”
In addition to the love from past franchise stars, Bachelor star Nick Viall—who has yet to send Lindsay home on his season of the show—offered his “ex” congratulations and praised ABC for finally making a diverse casting decision.
— Nick Viall (@viallnicholas28) February 14, 2017
My heart is full of joy for you Rachel. Congrats!! You will be one hell of a Bachelorette!! Beauty & class.. you have it all!! TheBachelor
— Nick Viall (@viallnicholas28) February 14, 2017
But some fans were annoyed that ABC spoiled their own show by prematurely announcing the next Bachelorette star before she was even sent home on the current season of The Bachelorette. Indeed, fans have not even seen Rachel’s hometown date with Nick yet.
A post shared by Rachel Lindsay (@therachlindsay) on
Fan reaction to the casting news was mostly positive, but a few irate viewers questioned why ABC would spoil the current season of The Bachelor by making The Bachelorette announcement so early.
— Bach Bracket (@bachbrack) February 14, 2017
— Krista Johnson (@gotkrista) February 14, 2017
I love that Rachel is the next bachelorette BUT WHY DID THEY SPOIL THEIR OWN SHOW #TheBachelor
— Randi Self (@randi_self) February 14, 2017
Rachel Lindsay’s casting as The Bachelorette is long overdue but it’s not a total shocker. Last year, former ABC president Paul Lee told TCA reporters that he expected a more diverse pick for the lead role on the ABC series.
“I’d be very surprised if [the Bachelorette] in the summer isn’t diverse,” Lee said, according to TV Guide. “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that, but I think that’s likely to happen.”
ABC showrunners reportedly courted the idea of casting Caila Quinn as the franchise’s first-ever half-Filipino lead. but ended up taking the “safe” route by casting JoJo Fletcher for the 12th season of the reality dating show. Last year, TV Line posted a series of tweets posted by Bachelorette executive producer Mike Fleiss, in which he hinted he got cold feet at the last minute.
“After 5 years of BBQ chicken as our Night One dinner, I’m thinking of mixing things up this year. Maybe a little Thai food… Yum!” Fleiss teased ahead of The Bachelorette Season 12.
But after Fletcher’s Bachelorette casting announcement was made, Fleiss posted that he “chickened out and went with BBQ chicken.” The showrunner even added, “If it ain’t broke…#Bachelorette.”
After JoJo Fletcher was predictably chosen to star as The Bachelorette, newly crowned female ABC boss Channing Dungey told TCA reporters she was ready to see big changes to the long-running reality franchise, which is now heading into its 33rd season.
“I would very much like to see some changes there,” Dungey said, according to Variety. “I think one of the big changes that we need to do is increase the pool [of contestants] in the beginning.”
On the current season of The Bachelorette, eight non-white ladies, including Rachel Lindsay, were cast to compete to win Nick Viall’s heart. In comparison, Chris Soules’ season just two years before had only one non-white contestant.
Take a look at the video below to see The Bachelorette announcement.
[Featured Image by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images for dcp]