Breaking the cycle? Chris Harrison opened up about fixing the diversity problem across The Bachelor franchise after Bevy Smith called out the ABC dating series for not representing people of color.
“When you watch you don’t see yourself represented and I think that’s what the issue was early on,” the 48-year-old host recently told Smith, 53, on her SiriusXM Radio Andy show, Bevelations. “We were begging people to come audition for the show and we weren’t getting the numbers. We had to stop and think why: is it the chicken or the egg?”
He continued: “We had to take that first step and [do] better at casting and putting more diverse people on the show therefore you see yourself represented more. I think it takes a long time to turn around a big boat.”
Harrison added that the series has “done much better” in recent seasons.
“Now we’re getting better numbers in auditions, therefore we’re getting people. We’re getting better quality people because also at the end of the day, I’m not really as worried about meeting a quota as I am about meeting a quota of quality people,” he told Smith. “I want [Bachelorette] Clare [Crawley] to have a broad spectrum but a broad spectrum of really good men and quality people.”
The Bachelor franchise has come under fire for their lack of diversity in the past. Rachel Lindsay, who starred on season 13 of The Bachelorette in 2017, remains the only black lead the show’s ever had.
“I said that all along when Rachel was our first black Bachelorette. I said I’m glad she’s the right Bachelorette, I’m not glad she’s the right black woman because she’s just a badass woman,” Harrison said. “I just loved her because she was the right pick. I want to get to the point where everybody feels represented and you’re just picking the right person.”
Lindsay, 35, for her part, has been very vocal about her issues with the show. While she met husband Bryan Abasolo on the series, she doesn’t have high hopes that a second woman of color will have the same opportunity.
“That’s why I keep talking about it because maybe it’ll start the conversation and maybe it’ll change,” she said in October 2019. “Even after me, you’ve had Sienne [Fleming], you’ve had Tayshia [Adams]. Not that Hannah [Brown] was bad. But she was number nine. Tayshia was number three [of Colton Underwood’s contestants]. Usually the system picks one of the top four, why not? Before, the excuse would be, ‘No one is making it far enough.’ Now they are. So now what?”
Listen on Spotify to Here For the Right Reasons to get inside scoop about the Bachelor franchise and exclusive interviews from contestants.