Big Rach has spoken! Former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay opened up in an op-ed for New York Magazine about her experience as the first Black lead for The Bachelor franchise and where she currently stands today. “I thought I could change The Bachelor franchise from within. Until I realized I was their token,” the Extra correspondent began her piece. She went on to detail her time as a contestant on Nick Viall‘s season of The Bachelor, which consisted of alleged black outs and bullying accusations, while also touching on her pivotal interview with former host Chris Harrison.
“During my season and after, he became someone who gave me advice on how to navigate the show and the celebrity of it. I called him my fairy godfather,” Rachel writes of her relationship with the ousted host. “We’d had our highs and lows, but there had been mutual respect until this interview. I felt disrespected, but I maintained my composure because I had to.” In February 2021, Rachel interviewed Chris in the midst of yet another Bachelor contestant racial controversy — this time pertaining to Rachael Kirkonnell‘s plantation party photos. “There were photos. Nobody had made a statement — not Rachael, not Chris, not the network. I wanted to know how the franchise felt now that one of the final four contestants on the first Black Bachelor was engulfed in a race controversy. I wanted someone to acknowledge it,” Rachel explains in her piece.
However, when she asked Chris his thoughts on the allegation, his response was his ultimate downfall. “We all need to have a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion. Because I have seen some stuff online — again, this ‘judge, jury, executioner’ thing, where people are just tearing this girl’s life apart and diving into, like, her parents, her parents’ voting record,” Harrison said. “The woke police is out there.” After offering his sympathy to the soon-to-be winner of Bachelor Matt James’ heart, Chris Harrison stepped down from his hosting duties and soon received after an 8-figure payout from the franchise.
Looking back at her tenure with The Bachelor franchise, and eventually becoming their first Black lead, Rachel writes, “I had a squeaky-clean record. I had to be a good Black girl, an exceptional Black girl. I had to be someone the viewer could accept. And I was a token until I made sure I wasn’t.”
However, upon her speaking out, Rachel received the wrath of what she and her Higher Learning co-host Van Lathan call the “Bachelor Klan.” “The fandom had always had a complicated relationship with me. But it really started to turn against me after that interview,” she explains. “The franchise has spent 19 years cultivating a toxic audience…Bachelor Klan is hateful, racist, misogynistic, xenophobic, and homophobic. They are afraid of change. They are afraid to be uncomfortable. They are afraid when they get called out.”
In her piece, she reveals she had to “hire people” to protect her after receiving “death threats and personal attacks” in the months following her interview with Chris. “I couldn’t even pretend to want to be involved anymore. I didn’t want to give people a reason to talk about me because everything I was saying was becoming a headline. And so I decided to remove myself from it all,” she writes.
In the end, Rachel says she is “no longer making myself available to The Bachelor universe (though any contestant, past, future, or present, who needs my advice can call me).” “To the franchise, I am no longer a figurehead. I am no longer a spot-filler. I am no longer the face of what is diverse. The goal for me was always to be that person until I could step away because the change had happened, and I could sit back and enjoy it,” she writes. Ahead of the second Black female lead, Michelle Young, stepping into the role of The Bachelorette, Rachel says she will be a cautious observer, unless, of course, they paid her eight figures…