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ABC's next 'Bachelorette' will be show's first black lead

Rachel Lindsay will be next 'Bachelorette'
Posted at 4:40 AM, Feb 14, 2017

(CNN) -- ABC is finally delivering on its long-held promise to bring a diverse lead to its "Bachelor" franchise.

The network on Monday night announced its new bachelorette will be Rachel Lindsay, a 31-year-old attorney from Dallas who will be the first black lead in the history of "The Bachelor" or spin-off "The Bachelorette."

"The Bachelor" is in the midst of airing Season 21, with suitor Nick Viall. Lindsay will star in Season 13 of "The Bachelorette."

The announcement, made on "Jimmy Kimmel Live!," comes after years of criticism for the shows' lack of casting diversity.

ABC president Channing Dungey, the first black woman to lead the network, responded to questions about the lack of diversity last summer during the Television Critics Association press tour, saying she would "very much like to see some changes there."

"I think one of the biggest changes that we need to do is we need to increase the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning, because part of what ends up happening as we go along is there just aren't as many candidates to ultimately end up in the role of the next bachelor or bachelorette," she told reporters at the time. "So that is something we really want to put some effort and energy towards."

The leads for "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" are typically chosen from the pool of candidates who did not win the previous season of the sister show.

Lindsay is currently competing on the current season of "The Bachelor." (So, spoiler alert.)

After the announcement, Viall tweeted his congratulations to Lindsay.

"My heart is full of joy for you Rachel. Congrats!!" he wrote.

The network previously attempted to diversify its leads back in Season 18 with the casting of Juan Pablo, an American-born Venezuelan.

Juan Pablo was initially a lauded choice, but by season's end was being called one of the most disastrous picks in the dating show's history, for reasons related to a slew of controversial comments and actions.

Notably, Lifetime drama "Unreal" featured a black suitor last season in its fictional show-within-the-show, which is inspired by "The Bachelor." The character was played actor B.J. Britt.

"The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" continue to be lucrative series for ABC.

The most recent season of "The Bachelor" frequently ranks as Monday's No. 1 TV series among adults 18-49 and adults 18-34.

The current season is also up 4% in total viewers compared to last season, with 8.6 million viewers.

The new season of "The Bachelorette" premieres May 22.