It’s been almost a year since Rachel Lindsay interviewed Chris Harrison about then-contestant Rachael Kirkconnell’s racism controversy, kicking off a series of events that led to the longtime Bachelor and Bachelorette host’s permanent exit from the franchise.
Just to refresh your memory since it’s been a while, Lindsay conducted the interview as part of her work as a correspondent for Extra. During the segment, the former Bachelorette (who became the franchise’s first-ever Black lead in 2017 and has never shied away from speaking out about the show’s problems with race and diversity) called out the history of problematic contestants in the franchise and asked how the show planned to handle Kirkconnell’s scandal, which included photos of her taken at an antebellum-themed plantation party in 2018.
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The host responded by calling for “grace” for Kirkconnell and spending most of the 14-minute segment defending both her actions and the Bachelor franchise’s silence on similar controversies. The fallout from the interview was swift, with many fans and alumni of the franchise criticizing or outright condemning Harrison’s comments. Within days of the interview, Harrison announced he was temporarily “stepping aside” from the franchise and by June, his exit officially became permanent.
Harrison faced backlash and ultimately lost his longtime job hosting the franchise, but Lindsay was bombarded with hate following the interview. She was forced into digital hiding in the wake of the interview, deleting her Instagram to stop the onslaught of hateful messages she was receiving. She eventually returned to social media, but says the negative comments have never really stopped.
In a new interview with People, Lindsay discussed the experience, revealing that she received death threats in addition to a range of other vicious comments.
“I’m used to being misunderstood, but people who didn’t even watch the show were saying, ‘That woman got that man canceled.’ I had commenters saying they hoped I was infertile. That ripped me up inside,” she told the magazine. “I still get messages blaming me for the show not being the way it used to be. But I think that’s a good thing.”
Lindsay added that, while she never intended to get Harrison fired from the franchise, she and the former host are no longer on speaking terms.
“We haven’t spoken,” Lindsay said when asked if she was still in contact with Harrison. “He unfollowed me. That tells me everything I need to know.”
Since the interview, Lindsay has more or less severed ties with the franchise, but says she doesn’t regret the experience—no doubt in large part because she actually did find love as the Bachelorette. She and Bryan Abasolo, whom she got engaged to at the end of her season, tied the knot in 2019 and are going strong (she described him as her “rock” in the People interview).
While Lindsay said she was glad she did the show and “had the opportunity to represent myself,” she also pointed out how taxing it was to be the first Black lead on the show. “I was teaching them about the Black experience and trying to find love at the same time, something no other lead had to do.”
Still, in typical Rachel Lindsay, class act fashion, she had nothing but well wishes for the future of the Bachelor and Bachelorette, saying, “I hope the show steps up and diversifies more, whether it’s with age or gender or race. I would like for them to naturally and organically step into 2022.”
We repeat: Class. Act.
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