ABC names first black 'Bachelorette'

After 15 years and plenty of public pressure for greater diversity, ABC has named the first African-American to headline one of its hit dating series.

Rachel Lindsay, 31, a Texas lawyer and popular contestant on the current season of The Bachelor, was announced as the next Bachelorette Monday on ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live. The 13th season will premiere May 22, ABC announced.

Lindsay, who appeared on Kimmel with Bachelor/Bachelorette host Chris Harrison, will be the the first black lead on either dating show when she takes center stage on Season 13 of The Bachelorette, handing out roses and choosing and dismissing suitors. Lindsay has been one of the women seeking to win the affection of Nick Viall on The Bachelor, which launched in 2002 and is now in its 21st season.

The upcoming Bachelorette, generally a runner-up or other popular contestant from the previous season of The Bachelor (and vice versa), is usually named after The Bachelor finishes its season. The announcement is a pretty good indication that Lindsay, who received Viall's first-impression rose and made the final four during Monday's Bachelor episode, doesn't end up as his true love.

Robert Mills, who oversees ABC's alternative series, praised Lindsay in a statement accompanying Monday's announcement.

“We’re thrilled to have Rachel Lindsay as our next Bachelorette,” he said. “This coveted role is always reserved for a fan-favorite from the previous season, and Rachel is no exception and has been the fans’ choice since she exited the limo.  She is an accomplished, confident and beautiful woman who knows what she wants in life. We all look forward to joining her on the joyous journey as she looks for that one special man.”

ABC executives and producers of the two dating shows have often been asked when the franchise, which has selected a white person as the Bachelor or Bachelorette in previous seasons (American-born/Venezuelan-raised Juan Pablo Galavis was the first Latino Bachelor in 2013), would more broadly reflect the diversity of society.

ABC Entertainment chief Channing Dungey, the first African American to head programming at a major broadcast network, expressed her commitment to greater diversity at the Television Critics Association press tour last summer.

"I would very much like to see some changes there. And I think one of the biggest changes that we need to do is … increase the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning, because part of what ends up happening as we go along is there just aren’t as many candidates to ultimately end up in the role of the next Bachelor or Bachelorette," Dungey told TV writers.

She continued: "The show has been very much in a cycle where the first runner-up in one cycle becomes the person who leads the next cycle, and it’s worked very well for us because the audience feels really engaged in helping to choose that candidate, so I think what we would like to try to do is just widen the pool of choices."

Mike Fleiss, creator of the dating franchise, teased fans about a "historic" announcement before the Kimmel show and welcomed support for the new Bachelorette.

Texas lawyer Rachel Lindsay, a contestant on 'The Bachelor,' will be the first African-American lead on ABC's 'The Bachelorette.' (Photo: Mitch Haaseth, ABC)

ABC Finally Casts First Black 'Bachelorette'

Rachel Lindsay, a Texas attorney, and current contestant on Nick Viall's The Bachelor, will be announced as the next Bachelorette on Monday's Jimmy Kimmel Live! The star of the next cycle is usually announced after the current season wraps, but ABC is breaking tradition by revealing the news weeks before the finale.

The network declined to comment. News of Lindsay’s casting was first reported by the Reality Steve website.

Lindsay is becoming the Bachelorette after years of controversy surrounding the long-running reality dating franchise. ABC executives have come under fire over the series' lack of diversity, as the starring roles have almost exclusively gone to white leads on both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette.

ABC Entertainment Group president Channing Dungey, the first African-American woman to run a broadcast entertainment division, told reporters at the 2016 Television Critics Association's summer press tour that the issue lies with booking more diverse candidates from the start of the show, since the Bachelor or Bachelorette is usually a popular contestant picked from the previous cycle.

"It’s worked very well for us because the audiences feel really engaged [in choosing] that candidate" she said of the process. "What we’d like to do is broaden that. We need to increase the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning. That is something we really want to put some effort and energy toward."

Viall's season, which premiered Jan. 2, featured the most diverse pool of contestants to date. At its start, the group of women included 22 white and eight nonwhite contestants. By comparison, the previous Bachelor with Ben Higgins featured five nonwhite contestants and 2015's Bachelor season with Chris Soules featured only one.

Viall also became the first Bachelor or Bachelorette in 15 years to give the coveted "first impression" rose — usually a precursor to either winning or becoming a finalist — to a black contestant when he handed Lindsay the night-one trophy.

On the current season, which airs its next episode ahead of Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT, Lindsay is still in the running. Her appointment not only breaks race barriers for the franchise, but it is also the first time ABC has announced its next star while she or he is appearing on the current cycle, essentially spoiling part of the ending as to who Viall ultimately picks.

The network similarly announced Viall as the Bachelor while he was still appearing on the franchise. However, he was starring on the summer spinoff, Bachelor in Paradise, which features multiple couples in its finale.

In the weeks leading up to Monday's announcement, Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss had heavily teased a "historic" announcement on his Twitter feed.

The Bachelorette seemed poised to cast its first Asian lead last season when fan-favorite contestant Caila Quinn, who is half-white and half-Filipino, was spotted with a film crew in her hometown. In a last-minute decision, however, the franchise went with JoJo Fletcher, whose mother is Persian and father was born and raised in Tennessee.

Though 2014 featured the only diverse Bachelor in the franchise's run, with American-born Venezuelan Juan Pablo Galavis, The Bachelorette has inched ahead of its male counterpart when it comes to featuring diverse contestants. Fletcher's group included 21 white and six nonwhite contestants to start, whereas the previous Bachelorette with Kaitlyn Bristowe featured four nonwhite men.

The series continues to enjoy an exceptional season in ratings, topping its broadcast competitors with another 2.3 rating among adults 18-49 for the Feb. 6 episode.

ABC Casts Rachel Lindsay as the First Black Bachelorette for Season 13: Details

UPDATED 2/14/2017 12:00 a.m. ET: It's official! Rachel Lindsay appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live on Monday, February 13, and was revealed to be the season 13 Bachelorette. "I'm ready to find love, find a husband," she said.

UPDATED 2/13/2017, 9 p.m. ET: Mike Fleiss appeared to confirm the news about Rachel Lindsay by tweeting, "Very happy about the overwhelming support for our new #TheBachelorette!!!"

Original story:

One of Nick Viall’s cast offs is getting another chance! The Bachelor season 21 standout Rachel Lindsay will be the season 13 Bachelorette, a source tells Us Weekly. ABC confirms to Us that the next Bachelorette will be announced on Jimmy Kimmel Live’s Monday, February 13, episode.

Lindsay, who landed a one-on-one date with Viall in New Orleans, is one of his six remaining ladies heading into The Bachelor’s February 13 episode. This is the first time that The Bachelorette has announced a series lead before the person’s elimination episode of The Bachelor has aired.

The 31-year-old Dallas-based attorney marks the franchise’s first black lead, and her selection follows the shows’ lack of diversity having become a bit of cause célèbre recently. Series creator Mike Fleiss has recently been tweeting about a "history-making announcement" that will happen on Kimmel.

The Bachelorette season 12 alum Wells Adams was a guest on a podcast earlier this month, and talk turned to whether producers would choose Lindsay. "I think the franchise wants to so badly break out of its cookie-cutter, white-person shell, but I don't think that America will embrace it, sadly enough," he said.

ABC president Channing Dungey told reporters at a press event in August that she would like the Bachelor franchise to start choosing more diverse leads. "I would very much like to see some changes there," she said.

Host Chris Harrison recently told Us Weekly exclusively that the show would be "lucky" to have Lindsay in the coveted role.

"She would be incredible," Harrison said of Lindsay. "She’s incredibly smart, she’s sweet and caring yet strong and independent, obviously wicked smart and a lawyer and very accomplished, has a lot of attributes. That’s massively attractive to Nick, and it would be to any guy!"

Tell Us: Are you looking forward to seeing Rachel Lindsay as the next Bachelorette?

The Bachelor airs on ABC Mondays at 8 p.m. ET.

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