9:32pm PT by Jackie Strause
New 'Bachelorette' Rachel Lindsay Opens Up About History-Making Role
Rachel Lindsay, a Texas attorney and current contestant on Nick Viall's The Bachelor, was officially revealed as the next Bachelorette on Monday's Jimmy Kimmel Live!
As The Hollywood Reporter reported earlier Monday, the network cast Lindsay as its first black lead in 33 combined seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. Though the star of the next cycle is usually announced after the current season has wrapped, ABC broke tradition by revealing the news weeks before the finale.
Franchise host Chris Harrison joined Kimmel to make the announcement — a first for Jimmy Kimmel Live! — promising viewers the "most dramatic announcement ever" as he attempted to drag out the big reveal. Kimmel eventually took over the announcing duties and welcomed Lindsay to the stage by showering her in red rose petals.
"I think it's safe to say your hometown date did not go as planned? This is a bit of a spoiler," Kimmel said to Lindsay, who was named one of Viall's final four contestants earlier in the night on The Bachelor. The show heads to hometown dates next week.
"It is, but we're a couple weeks out of filming," replied Lindsay of starting production on the next cycle before her on-air elimination. "I'm ready to find love, find a husband. So, if you know anybody out there, he needs to apply and sign up."
Her appointment not only breaks race barriers for the franchise, but it is also the first time ABC has announced its next star while she or he is still appearing on the season, essentially spoiling part of the ending as to who Viall ultimately picks.
The contestant said when she was approached to be the Bachelorette, she thought the franchise was trying to make her feel better after being eliminated by 36-year-old Viall.
While it's unclear on which episode Lindsay will exit, the contestant assured Kimmel that she's ready to find love.
"I'm looking for someone who's ready for what I'm looking for," she said. "At this point in my life, I'm 31, I'm ready to find a husband, someone who's ready to start a family."
Kimmel then handed her keys to the Bachelor mansion, which also included the hot tub key and the keys to Harrison's private home.
Lindsay becomes the Bachelorette amid years of controversy surrounding the lack of diversity on the long-running reality dating franchise, as the starring roles have almost exclusively gone to white leads on both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.
Viall's season, which premiered Jan. 2, featured the most diverse pool of contestants to date. At its start, the group of women included 22 white and eight nonwhite contestants. Viall also became the first Bachelor or Bachelorette in 15 years to give the coveted "first impression" rose — usually a precursor to either winning or becoming a finalist — to a black contestant when he handed Lindsay the night-one trophy.
The network similarly announced Viall as the Bachelor while he was still appearing on the franchise. However, he was starring on the summer spinoff, Bachelor in Paradise, which features multiple couples in its finale.
Next week, The Bachelor heads to hometown dates and Viall travels to meet the families of his final four women: Lindsay, Raven Gates, Vanessa Grimaldi and Corinne Olympios.
Shortly after the announcement, Viall took to Twitter to congratulate his ex. "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," he tweeted.
He then added, "No one better to show Bachelor Nation, & the world, the beauty of embracing diversity! So excited for you Rachel! #thebachelor #diversity."
Lindsay herself took to Instagram Monday night to say she felt like she was "still dreaming." She also addressed the historic casting with the hashtags #blackhistorymonth #historicmoment.
On Tuesday's Good Morning America, Lindsay said she doesn't feel any added pressure being the first black Bachelorette.
“I’m honored to have this opportunity and to represent myself as an African-American woman,” she said. “I just hope that people rally behind me, like they did in Nick's season, I hope that they will in my season. And realize that I’m just trying to find love, and even though I’m an African American woman, it’s no different than any other Bachelorette.”
She also spoke to ABC's Michael Strahan about an upcoming moment on the show, when her mother asks Viall how he feels about being in an interracial relationship.
"My sister is married to a white guy and so it's nothing new for my family," she said. "She just wanted to make sure Nick was comfortable with it."
Feb. 14, 12 p.m. ET: Updated with Lindsay's GMA interview.