10 Quotes From 'Bachelor' Stars About Diversity Issues Within The Franchise
Bachelor Nation might be evolving with every passing season, but it is still majorly lacking in at least one important area: anti-racism. This problem is far from new for The Bachelor and its various spinoffs, but it is becoming more widely recognized, especially as members of Bachelor Nation publicly speak up about the show's lack of representation. A number of Bachelor stars' quotes about diversity within the franchise indicate just how far there is to go in the fight for equality both onscreen and behind-the-scenes.
The police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade have sparked protests against racism and police brutality across the country. They have also sparked conversations about race and equality in essentially all aspects of life — Bachelor Nation included. Now more than ever, fans and franchise stars alike are facing the reality of Bachelor Nation's shortcomings in terms of diversity.
In the past 18 years, the Bachelor franchise has released 40 seasons, yet only of those seasons has had a Black lead (Rachel Lindsay, Bachelorette Season 13). A glance at any season's cast photo will tell you the contestant casting is not much more diverse; white contestants consistently outnumber BIPOC contestants every season.
Some stars from the series, like Lindsay, have been vocal about this lack of representation for years, while others have come forward more recently. Below, check out members of Bachelor Nation who have addressed the franchise's diversity issues — from casting, to showcasing contestants, to the fandom's poor treatment of people of color who go on the show.
1. Rachel Lindsay
Ever since she was the Bachelorette in 2017, Lindsay has been a leader in the call for the Bachelor franchise to be more inclusive. Her most recent comments about the matter make it clear where she stands in light of the growing presence of the Black Lives Matter movement.
In a June 5 interview with Afterbuzz TV, she said: "In 40 seasons, you’ve had one Black lead. We are on 45 presidents. And in 45 presidents there’s been one Black president. You are almost on par to say you’re more likely to become the president of the United States than you are a Black lead in this franchise."
Lindsay went on to say she would leave the franchise if it did not address and take steps to fix its representation issues. "It’s been asked of me, will I continue in this franchise if it continues in this way," she said. "I can’t. I have to see some type of change. It’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing. At this point it's embarrassing to be affiliated with it."
2. Diggy Moreland
In a June 8 interview on the Good Bad Behavior podcast (co-hosted by Sydney Lotuaco from The Bachelor Season 23), franchise alum Diggy Moreland spoke out about being a Black cast member on Lindsay's season of The Bachelorette, which notably had the most diverse cast up until that point.
"I didn't know what the typical amount of people of color they had on the show [was] ... I didn't know this was more than normal. To me it was like, 'OK, there's a decent amount of people of color here,'" he said.
Race was addressed multiple times throughout Lindsay's season. "I don't feel like, while we were filming and in the moment, [producers] were trying to push anything like, ‘Hey Diggy, you’re Black, she’s Black, how is this gonna work?’ or whatever ... But I do feel like, watching it back, you can kinda see it."
Moreland also mentioned during the podcast that while he wants ABC to cast a Black Bachelor, he wants the decisions to be made for the right reasons. "If we get a Black Bachelor coming up, I almost feel like it's inauthentic, just because you're coming off of what's happening now ... That being said, I still want it to happen."
3. Marquel Martin
After making it to the final four in Andi Dorfman's season of The Bachelorette, Marquel Martin was a frontrunner and fan-favorite to become the next Bachelor. In 2014, after Chris Soules was chosen over Martin as the franchise's next lead, Martin published a blog post pointing to race as a possible reason for him being passed over. In a June 7, 2020, Instagram post, Martin re-shared his old post and spoke further about his disappointment in the franchise.
"I have nothing but love for all of the producers, runners, and cast members that I know ... but it saddens me to see that you guys seem to be silent on the current state of our nation and the outcry of equality from my people (African Americans)!" part of Martin's post reads. "I am a proud black man and as a black man who was once a cast member on your show I take offense to your silence as a franchise."
4. Tammy Ly
Bachelor Nation's diversity issues extend into the fandom, as well. During the March 2020 "Women Tell All" episode of Peter Weber's season of The Bachelor, contestant Tammy Ly spoke about the hate messages she received after being on the show. "I was so afraid to even pick up my phone, because people were saying such nasty things to me. I was getting death threats [sent to] my work email."
Though producers and execs can't necessarily control how people at home treat the cast members, they can control what kinds of messaging viewers are exposed to while watching the show. Many would argue that better representation for BIPOC on the show is a step toward eradicating racism from the fandom.
5. Sydney Hightower
Sydney Hightower also spoke during Peter Weber's "Women Tell All" episode about the racist messages she's received from Bachelor fans. Hightower was candid about the hate she received growing up due to her race (her mom is white and dad is African-American and Dominican), and she said comments from Bachelor fans after her appearance on the show echoed that hate.
“The things I’ve had to go through in my life because of the color of my skin and because of where I’m from, I’ve had to be really strong,” Hightower said during the episode. “But when these things are said about you [now], those wounds from your past, they’re never fully closed.”
6. Olivia Caridi
In an Instagram story, Caridi shared a graphic about the new campaign, along with her own take on the need for better representation in the franchise: “Heck yes do I want to see equal representation because it matters," she wrote. "The franchise has a massive platform and can create change."
7. Shiann Lewis
Bachelor Season 24 contestant Shiann Lewis also showed her support for the Bachelor Diversity Campaign, and took to Twitter with a message of her own: "How is this even something we need to be asking for?"
8. Alayah Benavidez
In her Instagram story about the Bachelor Diversity Campaign, Alayah Benavidez's message about the franchise was short and simple: “It’s time for a change. It’s time for everyone to feel represented.”
9. Mel Taevin
Mel Taevin, who starred on the first season of The Bachelor Presents: Listen To Your Heart in the spring of 2020, shared her thoughts about representation on the musical spinoff. Her June 8 Instagram caption read:
"I'm honored to represent my Asian American Brothers and Sisters on this Franchise, and I will continue to do so to the best of my ability. However, it's not okay that I am singled out, and ultimately alone in that with the franchise. At the end of the day you can shake your statistics, your political lean, your outlook on mainstream television, there is zero excuse to not include BIPOC to 6 million people."
10. Chris Harrison
As of June 9, the face of the franchise, Chris Harrison, has yet to speak out about the recent events shaping conversations about race across the U.S., other than posting a Blackout Tuesday photo with the hashtag #ripgeorgefloyd.
Harrison has recently spoken about Bachelor Nation's representation problem, though. In a May 5 interview with Bevy Smith on her radio show “Bevelations,” Harrison acknowledged the lack of diversity in the franchise and said producers are working to make changes from within.
“What we realized is, if you don’t see yourself represented — no matter if it is on TV or in a club or whatever — you’re probably not going to want to attend. You’re not going to feel comfortable," he said. "So we had to take that first step, and we have done better at casting and putting more diverse people on the show, therefore you see yourself represented more. Again, I think it takes a long time to turn around a big boat.”
Time will tell whether these changes actually take effect, but it's clear Bachelor stars and fans alike will be waiting for them.