This season of The Bachelorette is a big one: Not only is the leading lady an African-American woman, there’s also a record number of black and brown suitors. To be exact, among the 31 guys, 14 are men of color.
It’s taken 33 seasons to broaden the color lines on the hit ABC series and you better believe there’s a lot riding on season 34’s star, Rachel Lindsay.
In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Lindsay opened up about the pressure of the journey ahead, particularly the pressure of choosing a Black suitor. “I remember having that conversation with [THR] and talking about the pressures that I feel from America, or black America. It was something that I wanted to get over before I entered my own season,” she said in the interview. “I was just like, ‘You know what? This is for me.’ I'm not choosing a man for anyone else. I have to be selfish. I have to do what's best for me. I'm the one who has to love and spend the rest of my life with this person, if I'm lucky to find that one. I couldn't get caught up in picking a certain man to please a certain community. Race didn't play in as a factor when it came to choosing men along the way. In my final decision, I just went with my heart and the person I found my forever with.”
Lindsay also discussed tonight’s episode which takes on a certain “love and basketball” theme as it shows the men competing for her heart et al (we’ve analyzed the clip to no end). The episode also brings in an unusual guest, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who went from Bachelor Nation critic who writes op-eds against the show’s portrayal of love and lack of diversity, to being a guest on the show. Abdul-Jabbar is now a believer.
“I really enjoyed talking to [Kareem Abdul-Jabbar] and hearing him compare basketball to relationships,” Lindsay said to THR. “How the same lessons that you learn in basketball, like being a team player, are important for relationships. The interaction we had with each other was invaluable.”
Though Lindsay also got real when it came to addressing the errors of past seasons. Even with the show’s clear lack of diversity the few suitors that did manage to make it onto the show never went very far. In fact, they were often cut in the beginning. When THR asked the reality star if men or color made it beyond the first couple weeks she said, “Yes! I am fortunate, if you see the first episode, to have a very diverse cast. So you will see more diversity go a longer way through my journey, but that's just because of the group of men that was coming out of the limo.”
The Bachelorette airs tonight on ABC, check your local listings for times.