'Bachelorette' Rachel Lindsay: Race Wasn’t a Factor in Choosing My Fiance

Rachel Lindsay has gifted her final rose and is ready to say, "I do."

Ahead of the 13th season of The Bachelorette, the ABC reality star revealed that her journey on the reality dating series will end with a proposal. "I'm very much so in love and very much so engaged," she shared.

On Monday's premiere, Bachelor Nation will meet the most diverse group of suitors to ever compete for a Bachelor or Bachelorette's heart in the franchise's 15-year history. After Lindsay, 32, became the series' first black lead in 33 combined seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, it has been revealed that nearly half of her 31 suitors are nonwhite contestants. 

With the barrier-breaking season, however, comes external pressure for Lindsay to pick a winner based on his race. Here, the Texas lawyer opens up to The Hollywood Reporter about how she handled those expectations and the role race plays in her pursuit of love this season.

Congrats on your engagement! Bachelors and Bachelorettes do not typically reveal the engagement this far in advance — are you already bucking show rules? 

I couldn't wait to tell the world! I’m going to be a whole other level of giddy when I can tell the world who it is.

The only details about your winner that you shared was that he "checks every box." What are some of those qualities?

Confident, direct, self-aware, a sense of humor, great smile, knows what he wants as far as the same things that I want — a marriage and a family. Also that he likes sports — that’s a big deal for me. He doesn’t need to play them, but needs to like them. And someone with good integrity.

You spoke about the hard road ahead now that you two will need to date in secrecy until your finale-night debut. Are you changing any show rules to make sure your relationship survives?

I wish I could break all the rules during this time, honestly. But I know that’s not possible, so it’s just important to keep an open line of communication. I don’t want to shy away of any questions that my fiance has for me about the journey or about myself in general. I’m an open book and I feel that as long as I continue to do that, he’s a strong enough person to be able to handle it. The same goes for me. I’m throwing those questions out at him and it’s reflective of how we want our relationship to be moving forward and forever — just keeping it real and continuing to communicate with each other even when it’s hard.

What are your talks like right now?

We’re on cloud nine about being engaged, so we’re just talking about how great it is to be engaged and what comes next. We are two happy little birds.

This is usually a tough time for Bachelor and Bachelorette couples — something Nick Viall and his winner Vanessa Grimaldi were open about during the last After the Final Rose. What are some of your fears about this in-between period?

I have fears. It will be hard and I’m fearful of that. I try to think of every possible angle of how things are going to happen. The odds are against us. We can’t be public about our relationship. We have to watch the show air, and he has to watch me have relationships with other men. That’s why I say communication is so important, because I want him to be able to talk to me about how he’s feeling.  And America’s watching, so everybody in America will have an opinion about me, about him, about other guys, and that’s hard to watch, especially when you’ve never done it before.

Now a week since wrapping production, how many times have you two seen each other? What are your secret dates like so far? 

We just finished filming, so I just got back and we haven’t even started all of that yet or seen each other since the proposal.

Ahead of filming, you said you felt pressure from the African-American community to pick a black man. How did you grapple with that during the season and are you ready to face Bachelor Nation, and specifically the African-American community, if your final pick is a white contestant?

I remember having that conversation and talking about the pressures that I feel from America, or black America. It was something I wanted to get over before I entered my own season. I was just like, “You know what? This is for me.” I’m not choosing a man for anyone else. I have to be selfish. I have to do what’s best for me. I’m the one who has to love and spend the rest of my life with this person, if I’m lucky to find that one. I couldn’t get caught up in picking a certain man to please a certain community. Race didn’t play in as a factor when it came to choosing men along the way. In my final decision, I just went with my heart and the person I found my forever with.

On your Bachelor hometown date — way back when — your sister spoke with your now-ex Nick about the current climate and how he should be prepared that not everyone is accepting of interracial couples. How did those talks go with your contestants this season and how did you navigate those issues personally as you pursued interracial relationships? 

If someone wanted to talk about race in the beginning, then we would talk about it. It was not important for me to bring that up until I was going to walk into someone’s home or they were going to walk into mine, and then I just needed to know his thought process and realize that not everybody might be as accepting of our relationship as we are. I just needed to know if they were strong enough to handle that and how they thought about it or if they thought about it. 

Would you like to see ABC cast a black Bachelor next?

I haven’t really thought about what the next Bachelor’s going to look like or who that may be. I think it’d be great — I had great men, so whoever it is, if it’s someone from my season, they would be fantastic. There are options for black, options for white, Latin, everything. 

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