Rachel Lindsay Reacts to Matt James’ Casting, Calls for ‘Producers of Color’ and More Change: Don’t Put ‘a Band-Aid Over the Situation’

Rachel Lindsay wants ABC to acknowledge the past before moving on with the future. The season 13 Bachelorette appeared on Good Morning America shortly after Matt James was named the first black Bachelor.

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“I was hoping when I came on to be a trailblazer for that and to increase diversity in the audience that watches it. But in the last three years, there really haven’t been changes made,” the 35-year-old reality TV personality said on Friday, June 12. “I want producers of color. I’d like for them to cast leads that are interested in dating outside of their race that aren’t just getting their first-time experience — for the first time — on national TV.”

Lindsay, who made history as the only black Bachelorette in 2017, went on to say she needs “acknowledgment” from ABC.

“Not putting a band-aid over the situation and just saying, ‘Here, we’re going to put this here. Are you happy now?’” she explained.

Rachel Lindsay Reacts to Matt James Bachelor Casting
Rachel Lindsay and Matt James Evan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock; Gregory Pace/Shutterstock

Hours earlier on Friday, ABC announced James, 28, who was originally set to compete on Clare Crawley’s upcoming season 16 of The Bachelorette, will be the season 25 lead.

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“Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season. When filming couldn’t move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor,” ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said in a statement. “We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we’re seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in, and we are proudly in service to our audience. This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise. We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”

ABC’s decision comes days after more than 85,000 fans and members of Bachelor Nation, including Lindsay, signed a petition campaigning for “anti-racism in the Bachelor franchise.” James, for his part, called being the first black Bachelor an “honor” during his GMA appearance.

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“I think it’s a step in the right direction. When Rachel speaks, we listen,” the North Carolina native said. “She has a very important voice in all this, being the first black woman, person of color to be a lead, and … this is hopefully the first of many black men to be in the position I’m at now.”

The Bachelorette is set to return to ABC in the fall. James will make his Bachelor debut in January 2021.

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