7:00pm PT by Jackie Strause
Tayshia Adams on Her Unprecedented Starring Turn on 'The Bachelorette'
For years, The Bachelor and The Bachelorette has promised "the most dramatic" season of television — and has managed to deliver with surprise endings that continue to steer the franchise into new and unpredictable territory.
The currently airing 16th cycle of The Bachelorette is no exception.
Tuesday's episode of the ABC reality dating competition served as Tayshia Adams' true takeover in the lead role, having stepped into the Bachelorette bubble after original star Clare Crawley exited after an early engagement to her clear frontrunner, Dale Moss.
Adams' Bachelorette reveal is unprecedented for a host of reasons.
As the franchise's first-ever mid-season star, Adams takes over amid Hollywood's current pandemic-era of filming, meaning the Warner Bros. TV-produced reality show needed to follow new COVID-19 safety protocols, like quarantining and testing, before secretly bringing Adams onto the secluded resort set in Palm Springs, California. In taking on the role, she becomes only the second-ever Black bachelorette and precedes the upcoming historic season of The Bachelor.
"I've always felt really supported behind the scenes," Adams tells The Hollywood Reporter of settling into her headline-making third stint on the franchise, following her 2019 pre-pandemic seasons of The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise. "I felt like I’ve had a really strong support system since day one and that continued up until this time. I don’t know what I would do without them."
Earlier this summer was when Adams, who had been in the running during the initial round of casting, got the call from producers about taking over as the Bachelorette. The country was at the height of the coronavirus pandemic and undergoing a racial reckoning with the Black Lives Matter movement sweeping the country.
"I was feeling a lot of things I had never felt before," Adams recalls of the time. "And the thing that I thought about was: not only am I African American, but I am Mexican, and I’m going to have an opportunity to have a platform to relate to so many women who look like me, who haven’t had the opportunity to relate to someone in the past."
She continues, "How can you not want to take that opportunity and be an amazing role model for people? That was something that I took on and was really excited to be able to do."
In early June, the 30-year-old had taken to her Instagram after participating in a Black Lives Matter protest to put into words the personal impact, noting, in part, "I truly have never felt anything like I did yesterday." Days later, amid renewed calls for the ABC franchise to diversify its leads and reflect a more inclusive cast, Matt James was announced as the first Black Bachelor, joining Rachel Lindsay, who until then, had been the franchise's lone Black lead since the dating competition series launched in 2002.
Now — after keeping her role a secret for nearly five months — Adams is stepping onto the national television stage as a biracial Bachelorette mere days after Kamala Harris has been projected to be the nation's first biracial vice president.
"I can breathe — it's a new day. I'm on cloud nine!" she tells THR of finally being able to scream her casting from the rooftops. As for the more hopeful timing for the country, Adams, who had urged voters to make their voices heard in the 2020 election, adds, "What an iconic time. What an amazing day to be a woman, and I’m also a woman of color. It’s been a victory for all of us."
Following two Latino leads with last season's Cuban Bachelor, Peter Weber, and this season's original Bachelorette Crawley, who is Mexican, Adams' season will lead into James' historic Bachelor turn in January. With each cycle building off one another, and with producers plucking previous stars for summer spinoff Bachelor in Paradise, the franchise is poised to feature more inclusivity come 2021.
In addition to addressing the "systemic racism" in the franchise earlier this summer, former Bachelorette Lindsay had also called on the franchise to pick leads who were interested in dating outside of their race, which is something Crawley did during her time as Bachelorette (her winner, Moss, is biracial). Over the summer, the franchise also made changes behind the scenes with more diverse hirings among the staff, including on production and in the crew.
While Adams admits that the pressure from the Bachelorette spotlight was something she was hesitant about before accepting the offer, today she says she is happy she took the risk. "I think I'll just roll with the punches as they come," she says with a laugh, "but I am so happy I was authentically myself and I don't regret anything. I am so happy I didn’t let fear take the opportunity away from me. I’m happy in the woman that I am today. I’ve grown a lot; I’ve learned a lot. I don’t think you can put a price on that."
As for what's to come, the trailer for her season promises many evolving courtships and, of course, drama as she continues along her journey. "There’s a lot of emotion. But it’s because there’s a lot of passion and feeling behind it," she says. "There are so many amazing guys. I really allow myself to explore every single relationship."
Then, taking a page out of host Chris Harrison's book, she offers one final tease: "It's gonna get good. It's gonna get real juicy. I'm excited."
The Bachelorette airs Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on ABC; Adams also hosts the Bachelor Nation podcast Click Bait.