During a short segment during Jimmy Kimmel Live! Monday night, ABC confirmed reports that they had cast the first black lead of a Bachelor show: Rachel Lindsay, who is currently wrapping up Nick Viall’s season of The Bachelor, will be the next Bachelorette.
ABC only hinted at the news during Monday night’s episode of The Bachelor, with a brief preview that said Kimmel would reveal the next Bachelorette on his show. But it had already been reported by Reality Steve Monday (after being reported by Amy Kaufman of the LA Times last week), and was then picked up by numerous publications; The Hollywood Reporter, EW, and Variety were among those claiming to have confirmed the report with their own sources—some citing Kaufman and/or Reality Steve, some not—indicating that there are still few who will actually report on this show, despite the influence of reality television on our real lives.
Given that Jimmy Kimmel is not actually taped live (it’s live to tape, though takes place on the West Coast, which delays things a bit), the news was bound to leak, but perhaps executives didn’t want it to leak so early. Or they knew it would and thought the leak(s) would hype things even more—whatever the case, it worked. By the time Kimmel aired, Rachel as the new Bachelorette was such a sure thing that Ellen had Instagrammed a photo all but confirming her.
As he’s been working The Bachelor into his show more and more, Kimmel found a way to incorporate the show into his monologue, combining it into some thing about Valentine’s Day and Trump Valentines that weren’t anywhere near as good as ours.
And then, after a long bit about Matt Damon, Kimmel’s wife and his unborn child, Kimmel announced that “the next Bachelorette is in the building” and would be revealed after the break.
He then brought Chris Harrison on. “This is the most dramatic announcement ever,” Harrison said, farcically, as he and Kimmel delayed the reveal dramatically in a highly hilarious fashion. Finally, Kimmel announced that Rachel would be the next Bachelorette, and brought her out on stage.
“Well, yeah,” Rachel said, in response to a question Kimmel asked her about the fact that, well, isn’t it a spoiler that according to the episodes airing right now, we still haven’t seen her break up with Nick.
“You know, we’re a couple of weeks out from filming, we’re ready to get this started, I’m ready to find love, find love, find a husband,” she expanded, clearly prepped, explaining that the producers approached her for this role not long after she and Nick broke up.
And that was about it! It was short and sweet—despite all the “historic” hyping from the show producers on Twitter.
But in an “exclusive” with People, Rachel said a bit more:
“I’m happy to represent myself as a black woman in front of America and I’m happy for America to rally behind me and see what it’s like for me to be on this journey to find love,” Lindsay, 31, exclusively tells PEOPLE. “Honestly, it’s not going to be that different from any other season of The Bachelorette.”
Adding, “I’m obviously nervous and excited to take on this opportunity but I don’t feel added pressure being the first black Bachelorette, because to me I’m just a black woman trying to find love. Yes, I’m doing on this huge stage, but again my journey of love isn’t any different just because my skin color is.”
As our sister site Fusion reported last year during Season 20 of The Bachelor, no black Bachelor or Bachelorette contestant has “lasted longer than five weeks” on the show; they also emphasized that over half have left or been kicked off after two weeks. (That remained true in the most recent season of The Bachelorette starring JoJo Fletcher; a typical season runs 10 episodes.) Those numbers have improved since the show’s start, as the discussion of the show online and elsewhere has seeped into its production.
As a person who has analyzed this franchise and other reality television programs perhaps too much to be anything but mostly jaded, I’d honestly like to know: if you’re a woman of color, what do you think about Rachel’s casting as the Bachelorette? Is it too little, too late? Does it still matter even though this call is over a decade overdue? Does it both matter and not matter at all? Feel free to leave a comment, or email me.