Rachel Lindsay — the first black Bachelorette and first black lead across all Bachelor platforms — is speaking out about the recent casting news regarding Matt James. Matt was announced as the new Bachelor Friday morning, and the update has been met with all kinds of reactions from former cast members and fans alike.
Rachel admitted to Page Six that she is happy to see ABC moving in the right direction regarding The Bachelor. However, she made sure to note why she thought the show made the decision that they made.
“Congrats to Matt James. I am happy to see that a black man was cast after 18 years and 40 seasons. I believe it is a step in the right direction. I would be remiss to not point out that based on the current climate, it feels like a knee-jerk reaction and a result of societal pressure,” Rachel noted.
The 35-year-old continued her sentiments, noting how ABC didn’t make any comments about how the series will move forward by including people of color.
“This announcement, without any further commitments regarding diversity, sweepingly brushes deeper issues under the rug. Until we see action to address the systemic racism within the franchise, the casting news today is equivalent to the trend of posting a black box on your social media account without other steps taken to dismantle the systems of injustice.”
When catching up with Good Morning America, Rachel also said she wanted more inclusion for people of color behind the scenes, most notably producers.
Rachel added that it is also important for the show to cast leads who are interested in dating outside of their race and aren’t just trying it out for the first time. Rachel married her husband, Bryan Abasolo, in 2019 after the duo met during her stint on The Bachelorette.
Of course, Rachel isn’t the only person who felt that Matt’s casting was a “knee-jerk reaction” based on pressure. The news came as a shock since Matt was cast on Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette, which has been put on hold due to COVID-19. Clare’s season will air this fall before Matt’s season, making his casting confusing to many viewers.
Bachelor Nation has been speaking out about the timing of the new development, and the lack of a promise from the show moving forward.
I couldn’t love this more! But I feel like we needed some type of statement along of the lines of, “We are part of the problem. There’s no excuse for having 40 seasons and only 1 lead of color. We vow to change starting now. Here’s your new bachelor.”
— Tiffany (@tiffany_peak) June 12, 2020
Others are speaking out on social media since Mike Johnson was not given the lead role. Mike stole the viewer’s hearts during Hannah Brown’s season of The Bachelorette, and many were distraught when Peter Weber was chosen for the subsequent season of The Bachelor. Now that Mike has been overlooked again, many are wondering if Matt was chosen because he is best friends with Hannah’s runner-up, fan-favorite Tyler Cameron. Mike has not made a comment about Matt’s casting, though he did like The Bachelor’s official tweet confirming the move.