Rachel Lindsay Says ABC Is Moving Forward with the Next Bachelorette Season Despite Controversy
Rachel Lindsay has confirmed that production has begun on the next season of The Bachelorette, despite the ongoing racism controversy surrounding the ABC franchise.
During the latest episode of the Bachelor Party podcast, Lindsay, 35, expressed her disappointment that the show won't be taking a break between Matt James' season of The Bachelor and the next iteration of The Bachelorette. A source also confirmed the news to PEOPLE, saying the Bachelorette crew arrived on set in New Mexico last week.
"They're already there!" Lindsay said. "Or at least they're quarantining for it. There's no pause on it."
Lindsay, who became the franchise's first Black lead on The Bachelorette in 2017, stressed that she will not be appearing in any way on the upcoming season.
"I just don't think that things have been fixed in the right way," she said. "Anybody that's standing up for change, I don't understand how you could be a part of this current season, because as we have seen in this current episode, there is still so much work to be done."
Lindsay was referring to Monday's episode of The Bachelor, which featured a conversation between James, the first Black Bachelor, and his dad. Earlier in the podcast, Lindsay said she felt the scene perpetuated stereotypes about Black fathers being absent in order to make "good TV."
"I don't want my name to be affiliated [with the franchise]," Lindsay said. "And I have heard that there are several people of color who have removed themselves from the show that were a part of casting for this current season."
The franchise came under fire following a conversation between Lindsay and longtime host Chris Harrison on Extra in February. The two were discussing one of James' finalists, Rachael Kirkconnell, who was criticized for resurfaced social media posts which saw her dressed in Native American attire in costume and attending an antebellum plantation-themed college party in 2018. She has since apologized.
During his discussion with Lindsay, Harrison, 49, appeared to defend Kirkconnell, 24, and said people should have "a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion" in the wake of the resurfaced photos.
After facing backlash for his remarks, Harrison apologized for "speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism" and announced that he would be "stepping aside" for a period of time. A source also told PEOPLE that work was "being done behind the scenes to make the appropriate changes and proper moves going forward with the franchise."
Emmanuel Acho has been tapped to host the upcoming live After the Final Rose special next week, though Harrison has already said he plans to return to the show.
On Tuesday, Lindsay said the franchise has to realize it has "a bigger problem" than Harrison's statements alone.
"It's not just what Chris said — it's the lingering impact of what he said and how it's going to trickle down and affect all people of color," she said.
"Yes, he's apologized," she continued. "Yes, I accepted it, but still I didn't forget what's been done of a person who's been with the franchise from the beginning. So of course people don't want to be a part of it — people who don't feel included don't want to be a part of it."
The Bachelor season finale airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC, followed by the After the Final Rose special at 10 p.m. ET.
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