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Lindsay was the ABC and Warner Bros. TV franchise’s first-ever Black lead and first Black Bachelorette in 2017. At the time, her casting — which came 15 years into the long-running reality show’s run — was overdue, but widely celebrated. Her cast was also historic in its amount of diverse contestants.
When appearing on Ziwe’s Showtime variety show on Monday, Lindsay and the Ziwe host talked about a trend with the franchise’s three Black leads — Lindsay, 2020 Bachelorette Tayshia Adams and, most recently, Bachelor Matt James — and how their endings circle back to casting.
“What do you think about the fact that all three of the Black Bachelors and Bachelorettes have all ended up with partners who are not of color?” asked Ziwe of the respective final picks (Lindsay is married to her winner, Bryan Abasolo; Adams is engaged to winner Zac Clark; and James is pursuing a relationship with his controversial winner Rachael Kirkconnell).
“I think I got a little bit more grace because I was the first and people were just excited that a person of color was in this role,” shared Lindsay of picking Abasolo. “But then I think when the next person chose someone that wasn’t Black, and then by the time we got to the third one it was like, ‘you know what, they’re just not going to choose anybody that’s Black.'”
While Lindsay said this highlights how “unfairly people of color are held to certain standards that their white counterparts aren’t,” she also said a problem lies in how the franchise casts the show.
“There was a point where I broke down on camera, and they used my tears for something else, but I was getting upset at the selection of men of color,” she revealed. “I also learned as I was going through my season that several of the Black men on my season didn’t date Black women.” When she approached the producers about her contestants’ dating histories, she said they found it “interesting” that some of the Black men had never dated Black women.
“I said, ‘You think that’s interesting? That’s my life. I live that,'” said Lindsay of her response. “That’s why I’ve been speaking out [about the franchise] that you don’t need to just diversify your cast and your leads, you need to diversify the people behind the camera.”
Lindsay, who is an attorney and a media personality, has been vocal about the uphill battles she faced both in front of the camera and behind the scenes in the starring ABC role, including in the editing of her season. Memorably, her historic season focused on issues of race when a contestant was revealed to have a racist social media history.
Lindsay has resurfaced several of her experiences while providing media commentary on James’ problematic season of The Bachelor, which resulted in Chris Harrison taking a hiatus as host amid a racism controversy that garnered national headlines. Throughout the season, Lindsay pushed the franchise to address the systemic race issues that were exposed amid James’ cycle, and asked for more inclusivity among the decision-makers.
After the recent Bachelor season concluded, Lindsay announced that she was exiting her franchise-supported podcast, Bachelor Happy Hour. “For me, I’ve been struggling. That’s no secret,” she said on the April 27 episode, referencing the personal toll that speaking out about James’ season has taken. “And it’s been really, really hard for me lately. And a lot of things that we talk about on this podcast are also about taking care of yourself and finding your peace and protecting that peace and protecting your mental health. So, for me, I just feel like I’ve come to the end of doing the podcast.”
In speaking to Ziwe, she said that she felt she was cast because she “checked all of the boxes” because of her qualifications: “She’s a good Black girl,” she said. Still, she says she doesn’t regret the experience, but perhaps Bachelor Nation does. “I’m not quite sure if they understood what they were going to get with me. I think maybe they thought, ‘She’ll play the game.’ Which I did, contractually. When that contract was up, I started to speak out on things that needed to change.”
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to ABC and Warner Bros. for comment.
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