Rachel Lindsay was pleased to hear Matt James was chosen as the first black “Bachelor,” but hopes this will be the first of many decisions ABC makes toward a more diverse and inclusive franchise.
She told Page Six in a statement on Friday, “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.”
Lindsay, 35, continued, “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. I look forward to hearing more about the additional efforts the franchise plans to make towards change.”
The first and only black “Bachelorette” shared similar sentiments on”Good Morning America” on Friday, saying, “I want producers of color. I would 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. I need the acknowledgment of that.”
Lindsay said she doesn’t want the network’s landmark decision in picking a black male lead to be like “putting a Band-Aid over the situation and just saying, ‘Here, we’re going to put this here. Are you happy now?’”
The attorney has been of the franchise’s most vocal stars in discussions about the shows’ lack of representation.
Last week, she exclusively told Page Six, “When I look at what’s happening in our country, and then I look at the franchise, I can’t continue to be affiliated — it’s embarrassing honestly at this point — to be affiliated with a franchise who is not on the right side of this.”
She also supported a recent online petition that called on ABC to cast a black “Bachelor” for the upcoming 25th season, which James is now leading.
After naming James, 28, as the next “Bachelor” on Friday, ABC 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.”
Mike Fleiss, the “Bachelor” franchise’s creator, also told fans on Twitter, “More to come… We can and will do better!”
James, a philanthropic former college athlete, told “GMA” that he welcomed the opportunity because he doesn’t think it’s “ever the wrong time to do the right thing.”
“I think it’s a step in the right direction,” he added. “When Rachel speaks, we listen. She has a very important voice in all this, being the first black woman, person of color, to have a lead, so I think that we’re all following suit in that conversation, and this is hopefully the first of many black men to be in the position that I am in now.”