After promising fans “an historic announcement,” The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss and ABC will make good on the hype during tonight’s episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live with this news: Rachel Lindsay, a 31-year-old African-American attorney from Dallas, will be handing out roses when The Bachelorette premieres this spring. This marks the first time ABC has cast a person of color in the leading role for The Bachelorette or The Bachelor. (Up until now, the franchise’s most diverse leads have been Venezuelan soccer player Juan Pablo Galavis in Season 18 of The Bachelor, and Season 12 Bachelorette star JoJo Fletcher, who is half Persian.)
Though Lindsay is still appearing on the current season of The Bachelor — she’s one of four women remaining after the Feb. 13 episode — ABC is making the Bachelorette announcement now in order to have more time for casting. This isn’t the first time the show has decided to spoil itself: ABC announced current Bachelor Nick Viall in August 2016, even though he was still appearing on the third season of Bachelor in Paradise.
Diversity has long been an issue for the ABC franchise; in 2012, two Nashville residents filed a class-action lawsuit against ABC and Warner Horizon Television, the studio that produces The Bachelor, claiming that the show violated racial discrimination laws. The suit was dismissed in October 2012.
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The Bachelor airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on ABC. Watch clips and full episodes of The Bachelor for free on Yahoo View.