Update: This story has been updated with quotes from former “Bachelorette,” Tayshia Adams, who also weighed in on the controversy.
Former “The Bachelorette” star Rachel Lindsay has spoken out about her interview with Chris Harrison, which has led to considerable blowback this week, regarding the host’s controversial commentary surrounding race.
Lindsay says she will not be renewing her contract with “The Bachelor” franchise when it’s up. She currently hosts a Bachelor Nation podcast, and is part of “The Bachelor” family with cameo appearances on-screen in various episodes throughout seasons.
“I’m fucking tired. I’m exhausted. I have truly had enough,” Lindsay said on the Feb. 12 episode of her Spotify Original Podcast from The Ringer, “Higher Learning” with Van Lathan, where she spoke extensively about the Harrison interview.
Lindsay starred as “The Bachelorette” in 2017, becoming the first-ever Black lead on the series. This year, in 2021, Matt James became the first Black “Bachelor.” Lindsay met her now-husband, Bryan Abasolo, on the ABC reality dating show.
“My entire reason for doing ‘The Bachelorette’ — and I was lucky that it worked out for me in the most beautiful way in finding Bryan — is that I wanted to be representative as a Black woman to this audience. And I wanted to pave the way for more people to have this opportunity,” Lindsay said on the podcast. “In some ways that has happened. I wanted the franchise to be better. I have a love-hate relationship with it. I’m connected to it. It did stuff for me, and I’ll never forget that.”
Lindsay, an attorney who is also a correspondent on “Extra,” said she is unsure whether she wants to continue with the franchise, given this week’s controversy.
This is not the first time Lindsay has said she will break ties with “The Bachelor.” Last summer, in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, she said she would walk away, if a Black Bachelor wasn’t cast. (Days after her comments, James was announced as the first Black star of the show.)
On this week’s podcast, Lindsay explained: “But how much more do I want to be affiliated with this? How much more can I take of things like this? I said I was gonna leave if they didn’t have leads of color. Okay, they did that, and they made some other changes. They hired a diversity consultant — who didn’t attend the class? Did Chris Harrison not sit through that? I’m confused as to how you could have whole consultants working for you, yet what happened just happened”
“I can’t take it anymore,” Lindsay said. “I’m contractually bound in some ways. But when it’s up, I am too. I can’t do it anymore.”
Warner Bros. TV, the studio behind “The Bachelor” franchise which currently has Lindsay under contract, did not respond to Variety‘s request for comment.
A representative for Lindsay did not immediately get back to Variety‘s request for additional comment.
“The Bachelor” is facing heavy criticism this week, in the wake of host Harrison’s comments regarding a frontrunner contestant, Rachael Kirkconnell, whose past racist behavior has re-surfaced on social media. (Photos emerged of Kirkconnell attending an antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal in 2018, and she has allegedly liked photos on social media containing the Confederate flag.)
Kirkconnell apologized yesterday, stating that her “ignorance was racist.”
Before Kirkconnell’s apology, Harrison sat down with Lindsay for an interview on “Extra” where he went to great lengths during the 14-minute discussion, seemingly defending Kirkconnell and speaking out strongly against cancel culture.
Amid heavy backlash, Harrison issued an apology. “I took a stance on topics about which I should have been better informed,” he said. “What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry. I also apologize to my friend Rachel Lindsay for not listening to her better on a topic she has a first-hand understanding of, and humbly thank the members of Bachelor Nation who have reached out to me to hold me accountable. I promise to do better.”
Lindsay, on the podcast out today, shared her thoughts about her interview with Harrison. She says that she and Harrison spoke privately after the interview, and stated that she appreciates his apology, “but I’m having a really, really hard time, reasoning, or, like, really taking in and accepting this apology.”
“During that conversation, he talked over me and at me, during that conversation,” Lindsay said. “He never gave me room to talk. And he never gave me room to share my perspective. He wasn’t trying to hear it. He was just trying to be heard. And that’s because I felt like he had an agenda that he was trying to push. He was really trying to push that forward. He expressed everything that he said, with passion and conviction. So, for me, Tuesday is what it was. And I’m not saying that he can’t be apologetic. I’m not saying that he can’t learn and be better from it.”
Following the controversy, yesterday, women from the current season of “The Bachelor” banded together to post a joint statement, speaking out against the defense of racism.
“Twenty-five women who identify as BIPOC were cast on this historic season that was meant to represent change,” the statement read. “We are deeply disappointed and want to make it clear that we denounce any defense of racism. Any defense of racist behavior denies the lived and continued experiences of BIPOC individuals. These experiences are not to be exploited or tokenized.”
On Friday, the most recent “Bachelorette,” Tayshia Adams — who is Black and Latinx, and was the first-ever biracial lead on the dating series — addressed the issue on her Bachelor Nation podcast, “Click Bait,” which is produced by Warner Bros. Speaking about Harrison, Adams explained that she felt “saddened” by his “Extra” interview with Lindsay because she has become good friends with the host off-screen.
Adams suggested that Harrison could offer a personal apology, explaining, “A message even saying, ‘If this has offended you, if my words and my actions have offended you within this interview that I’m sorry because that’s not what I was intending to do.’ It would just be an apology,” she said.
Adams also spoke about the diversity issues that have long-plagued the franchise, bluntly stating, “First, I think we’re going to need to hear from the franchise as a whole in not standing for racism…Just because you have a Black lead or a few of them doesn’t mean you’re not racist.”
Current “Bachelor” lead James also weighed in on Friday, posting a memo on his story in support of Lindsay. “I am beyond grateful to have Rachel as a mentor during this season,” James wrote. “Your advocacy of BIPOC people in the franchise is invaluable, I stand with you and the rest of the women advocating for change and accountability.”