Monday night Chris Harrison visited Jimmy Kimmel's late night show to announce the next leading lady on ABC's The Bachelorette. Dallas native Rachel Lindsay will pass out roses next season, and be the first black woman to do so.
Lindsay told Kimmel that when the producers first approached her about being the next Bachelorette, she thought they were just trying to make her feel better after her heartbreak from Bachelor Nick Viall. But as they persisted, she knew they were serious.
The timing of the announcement was another departure for ABC. Typically, the network doesn't confirm a Bachelor or Bachelorette until they've been eliminated from the show that introduced them to viewers, and Lindsay is still competing for Viall's heart on The Bachelor. The 31-year-old told Kimmel she didn't want to waste any time in finding a husband.
In the franchise's 15-year history — that's 21 seasons of The Bachelor and 12 of The Bachelorette — there has been only one non-white lead, Juan Pablo Galavis. Lindsay, one of four women remaining on her season, was the first black woman to ever receive the "first impression" rose on The Bachelor.
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In a 2011 Q&A with Entertainment Weekly, Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss, said non-white people weren't trying out for the show.
"I think Ashley is 1/16th Cherokee Indian, but I cannot confirm. But that is my suspicion," Flesis told EW. "We really tried, but sometimes we feel guilty of tokenism. Oh, we have to wedge African-American chicks in there. We always want to cast for ethnic diversity, it’s just that for whatever reason, they don’t come forward. I wish they would."
Viall’s affection for Lindsay didn’t stop at the first impression rose. She received a one-on-one date where the two spent the day in New Orleans, dancing with a second line parade. On Monday night’s episode, Lindsay prepped Viall to meet her parents, including her father, who is a federal judge for the Northern district of Texas.
Lindsay is an associate at Cooper and Scully law firm and is the second Bachelorette in a row to hail from Dallas. (Last year, JoJo Fletcher went through the experience.) Lindsay earned her degrees from the University of Texas and Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee. The Dallas Young Lawyers Association named her “one to watch” and included her involvement with The Bachelor in its announcement about the honor.