Fleming, 30, competed for Arie Luyendyk Jr.’s heart on The Bachelor’s 22nd season, which aired in 2018. The California native was not a “huge fan” of the ABC franchise before coming on board, but she became interested when they cast Rachel Lindsay as the Bachelorette in 2017.
“That was one of the main reasons why I ended up auditioning for the show,” she explained to E! News in an interview posted Wednesday, June 10. “Because I thought, ‘Oh okay, well maybe they are kind of maybe changing things up, making things a little more inclusive. I quickly learned that was not the case.”
Though the Bachelor franchise has featured contestants of various ethnic backgrounds, Lindsay, 35, was its first and only black lead. Before Lindsay took the lead, Juan Pablo Galavis became the first non-white Bachelor for season 18 in 2014. Peter Weber was the franchise’s second-ever Hispanic lead after Galavis, 32. (Weber, 28, is half-white and half-Cuban.)
Fleming wouldn’t regard Lindsay’s turn as the Bachelorette as a “fluke.” However, she noted that failing to cast a diverse lead thereafter was the problem. She also pointed out that it’s not “representative” of today’s dating scene when the show neglects to feature a black Bachelor.
“By not having a more diverse cast, by not having more Asians or Hispanics or Black people, you’re isolating a part of the country that would be interested in the show if they felt more represented,” Fleming argued.
Fleming’s comments come on the heels of what Lindsay recently said about the franchise’s lack of diversity. On the June 5 episode of AfterBuzz TV’s Bachelor A.M. With Kelsey Meyer, the former attorney said “it’s embarrassing to be affiliated with it” at this point. Three days later, she penned an emotional blog where she asked the franchise to examine “systematic racism” from within.
“Yes, more diverse contestants do appear on the show now, but is the lead truly interested and open to dating outside of their race? I think that is evident by how far their ‘journey’ takes them during each season,” the Ghosted cohost wrote on Monday, June 8. “It is a naive expectation to believe that leads will authentically start an interracial relationship for the first time on national television. The sad reality is that people of color become placeholders as the token person of color to add some flavor to the second half of the season.”