ABC’s The Bachelorette casts first black lead

She may have not gotten the final rose on ABC’s The Bachelor, but 31-year-old Rachel L. Lindsay has plenty of reasons to celebrate. The lawyer from Texas will be the first black lead on The Bachelorette, a spinoff of The Bachelor. Although the news broke out all over social media and some news outlets right away, the decision was officially announced on Jimmy Kimmel Live!

The eligible bachelorette received a law degree from Marquette University in 2011 and is a personal injury lawyer at Cooper & Scully, a Dallas firm.

Lindsay was one of the women seeking to win over Nick Viall on The Bachelor. She received the first impression rose during the season premiere, which usually means the contestant is an early frontrunner in the hit dating series. The fan favorite captivated Bachelor Nation with her beauty, smile and wit. Initially, Lindsay was reticent. As weeks passed, viewers watched her open up more and the chemistry she had with Viall was undeniable. On her first one-on-one date with Viall, Lindsay danced through the streets of New Orleans, then into Viall’s heart.

The timing of the historic announcement was bigger than the announcement itself. The current season is still running and there is no final woman standing which means the show still has a few more episodes left. The announcement also comes at a time when diversity is an issue in the media.

The Bachelor began in 2002 and The Bachelorette followed a year later. In both shows of the Bachelor franchise, contestants vie for the lead hoping to find love and a happily ever after. Neither show has cast a black lead, though several black women and women of other nationalities have appeared as contestants. Only two other leads were of color. Juan Pablo Galavis of season 18 was the only bachelor of color while JoJo Fletcher, the most recent bachelorette, has an Iranian mother. Her ethnicity, however, was rarely discussed on the show.

ABC has faced a lot of pressure for greater diversity for many years from the public and even celebrities. People of color have rarely been cast on the shows and for those who were, there was a tendency for them to be voted off early. This commentary has surrounded the show for years. There was even a racial discrimination lawsuit brought against the show in 2012 when a group of Nashville residents claimed that the show failed to feature non-white cast members and argued that civil rights law “plainly prohibits whites from refusing to contract with African Americans because of their race.”

Though Lindsay has been a fan favorite during the current season of The Bachelor, many have specualted that the decision to give her the lead role comes from producers feeling pressured for not having enough diversity on the show.

Lindsay will begin her journey to find love when season 13 of The Bachelorette premieres on Monday, May 22 on ABC.