8:08pm PT by Lexy Perez
Rachel Lindsay Talks Black 'Bachelor' Casting, Hannah Brown Controversy
Former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay opened up about ABC's decision to cast the first-ever Black Bachelor in Matt James for the franchise's 25th season.
"I'm excited that there's a Black Bachelor, … but I hated the timing of it because it does seem like a reaction to what is happening in our country," Lindsay admitted to Watch What Happens Live host Andy Cohen Wednesday when asked for her reaction to the casting news.
Though happy for James, Lindsay argued, "did a man have to die in such a public way on a national stage for you to say, 'Now is the time for us to have a Black Bachelor'?" She continued to explain that the sudden casting seems to be "taking away from this moment." Lindsay also said she wished the network waited to announce James, who should be recognized as the "right man chosen" rather than one chosen "just for this time."
Rather than simply cast a Black Bachelor, Lindsay said she also hoped for "some acknowledgement that [ABC has] been wrong and part of the problem." Prior to James' casting, Lindsay shared an emotional blog post, calling for the "systemic racism" within the Bachelor franchise — which is produced by Warner Bros. Television — to be addressed, even threatening to "dissociate" herself from the show if action is not taken.
Prior to Lindsay's blog post, she — along with other notable Bachelor and Bachelorette alums, including Onyeka Ehie, Diggy Moreland, Seinne Fleming, Marquel Martin, Sydney Lotuaco, Tyler Cameron and Desiree Siegfried, among others — signed a Change.org petition titled "A Campaign For Anti-Racism in the Bachelor Franchise," demanding that a Black man be cast as the Bachelor for season 25.
Following her post, Lindsay said the producers personally reached out to her.
"They told me they heard me and they're wanting to do more and make changes," Lindsay told Cohen, also applauding the show's statement shared on social media in which they apologized and promised to take action.
Lindsay — the first and only Black lead since the franchise's 2002 debut — later discussed that during her season she experienced racism from the audience, in particular for her decision to be in an interracial relationship when she became engaged to Colombian finalist Bryan Abasolo.
Though she didn't state whether she experienced racism from producers, Lindsay did share that she did have a racist contestant on her season. Because of her experience, Lindsay expressed her hope that the franchise does a "better job at vetting contestants" by having a person of color involved in casting decisions to prevent any discrimination. "I would hope in the future that that never happens again," she told Cohen.
Later on in the show, Cohen questioned Lindsay about her thoughts on Bachelorette alum Hannah Brown, who stirred controversy after saying the N-word during an Instagram Live. After receiving backlash, Brown issued an apology statement then took a social media break for two weeks until returning to assure she would do better.
Lindsay told Cohen that Brown had reached out to her and apologized for deciding not to join Lindsay in an Instagram Live discussion about her controversial video, opting to issue a statement instead. "She said, 'My privilege let me hide behind a written statement,'" Lindsay recalled of their conversation. She also shared that Brown acknowledged that Lindsay's privilege didn't allow her to take a social media break like she did, but rather, Lindsay was expected to "make a video to explain why saying the N-word is wrong."
"It was really thoughtful. I know it was hard for her to reach out after everything that happened," Lindsay said, also confirming that "all is forgiven" between her and Brown.
Meanwhile, a controversy that is not forgivable for Lindsay were the actions of former Vanderpump Rules castmembers Stassi Schroeder and Kristen Doute. Schroeder and Doute were fired from the Bravo show after former castmember Faith Stowers, who is Black, revealed that in 2018 her co-stars reported her to police, allegedly telling the authorities that Stowers resembled a suspected criminal.
"I wholeheartedly agree with the firing," Lindsay said after Cohen asked for her thoughts. "I was disgusted when I found out what they did and even more when they bragged about it after." Lindsay added that the former castmembers were "only remorseful when they got caught."
See more moments from Lindsay's interview below.