Before Rachel Lindsay was “The Bachelor” franchise’s first — and only — black lead in the ABC show’s 18-year history, the 35-year-old worked as a lawyer in Texas, where she experienced “subtle racism” inside the courtroom.
“I started off as a prosecutor and I would be sitting there, waiting for the defense attorney to come, and they would either bypass me because they would assume that I’m not the attorney or they would assume that I was the legal secretary or a paralegal — never the attorney,” she exclusively told Page Six. “I would have attorneys yell at me, hang up the phone on me, point in my face, and then my counterpart who was the lead on the case, they would not speak to at all in that way.”
But Lindsay, who says it was always white or Hispanic men who mistreated her, said she had developed a “thick skin” over time because of the discrimination she saw her father, judge Sam A. Lindsay, go through.
“My dad is now a federal judge, but when he started off, he graduated from the top law school in Texas and couldn’t get a job,” she said. “I had seen my dad overcome and work hard for the things that he has, and I hear the stories about the injustices that he faced. It’s those stories that make me stronger and give me the courage to do exactly what it is that I’m doing right now.”
Last week, Lindsay joined hundreds in Miami to protest the death of George Floyd in police custody. Lindsay’s husband Bryan Abasolo, whom she met on “The Bachelorette” in 2017, joined her.
“It was Bryan’s first time [protesting] and I think, for him, it was a lot more emotional,” she said. “It was very powerful to look around and see so many people that didn’t look like me, who were all marching in unity for the same purpose. To look and see someone of a completely different race saying ‘Black Lives Matter,’ screaming it at the top of their voice, it was truly a beautiful moment.”
Lindsay said her participation in the protests was met with criticism from some fans online.
“I was protesting,” Lindsay clarified. “Looting is totally different … I know what I was there for. I know what we were a part of, and what we believe in, and I’m happy. I would do it again if I had the opportunity to protest.”
Abasolo, 40, is a white Latino of Colombian descent, and Lindsay said she and her husband have had several discussions about how they will raise their future biracial children in America.
“I told Bryan, ‘Listen, we’re in an interracial relationship and our children are going to be biracial. We don’t know what they’ll look like, but at the end of the day, they’re going to be seen as black,’” she said. “And so, the issues that are happening right now can directly affect our children because they will be black.”
Lindsay said she and Abasolo, who wed in August, are “on the same page” about preparing their children with as much knowledge as possible to learn how to navigate racially tense situations.
“If I had a child right now, I would have them sitting and watching what’s happening on the news to see the good in the protests and to see the wrong in the looting,” she said. “I want to educate them on what to do when you’re stopped, when you’re pulled over. What are their rights? We need to equip and arm black children at this point with knowledge because they are upset, they are angry, they are confused.”
Someone who has promised to educate herself on racial issues is fellow former “Bachelorette” Hannah Brown. The 25-year-old Alabama native recently issued a second apology after saying the N-word while singing along to a song. She vowed to be “part of the solution” and asked her supporters, “Do not defend me.”
“I don’t want to critique an apology. An apology is an apology,” Lindsay said. “It was solid and it was heartfelt, which is exactly what I would expect when it takes you two weeks to put out an apology. I mean, it should have been all those things.”
Right after the video of Brown saying the slur was posted online, Lindsay invited her to do an Instagram Live together to discuss the incident. Brown declined the offer, Lindsay said.
“I wanted her to do a live video, so people could see her, and she [now] did it, and it came across as genuine to me,” Lindsay said. “I’m not going to judge what was in her heart. I know that when I talked to her on the phone — two weeks ago when it happened — she was upset at what she did. So I feel like her apology was genuine.”
However, the attorney hopes that Brown will do more than talk the talk, saying: “There were a lot of things that were promised in the apology as far as she’s going to take action, and so I think people are watching for that.”
Lindsay said neither she or Brown have been in touch since their previous phone call.
As the only black lead in the “Bachelor” or “Bachelorette,” Lindsay often feels compelled to speak up when racial issues surface in the franchise, like when Mike Johnson was not chosen to be the “Bachelor” after being a fan favorite on Brown’s season.
“We have now casted for 40 seasons — even though they haven’t started Clare [Crawley’s],” she said. “There’s been one person of color in 40 seasons. We have 45 presidents. There has been one person of color. We are literally on par to saying that you are more likely to become the president of the United States than you are to be the lead of this franchise. That is insane.”
Lindsay continued, “How can I sit back and be quiet, when I am a part of something that isn’t as supportive or doesn’t reflect who I am? I just feel like if anybody is in my position, you couldn’t sit quiet about that … And I don’t think that anyone would fault me — a higher up in the franchise — for saying that.”
She now hosts the official “Bachelor Happy Hour” podcast alongside fellow franchise alum Becca Kuffrin.
“I feel like I’ve been a little bit a part of the problem,” Lindsay admitted. “We continue to make excuses as to why we haven’t seen this change. You continue to say, ‘Oh, well it’s just because the lead hasn’t picked a person of color that’s gone far enough. Oh, this person was more qualified for this person. Oh, the audience liked this person more.’ But that’s not true.”
She continued, “Once I saw what they did in ‘Bachelor in Paradise,’ bringing in somebody who is not even a cast member in Kristian [Haggerty] to facilitate this relationship between Demi [Burnett] and Kristian, I know that that franchise has the power to do whatever they want, including having a lead of color, and it’s time to stop making excuses.”
Lindsay said the current climate has fueled her passion for speaking up against the lack of representation.
“When I look at what’s happening in our country, and then I look at the franchise, I can’t continue to be affiliated — it’s embarrassing honestly at this point — to be affiliated with a franchise who is not on the right side of this,” she said.
Fortunately for Lindsay, she has found a different platform in which she can unapologetically voice her opinions on issues within the black community and comment on urban culture. She and former TMZ reporter Van Lathan launched a new podcast called “Higher Learning” on The Ringer.
“It’s the perfect time for this podcast to come out because this is what it is about — to be able to have these open conversations and this dialogue about how these things affect us, and hopefully open people’s minds and their eyes to some of the things that are going on,” she said.
Lindsay added that she is grateful to have been given the opportunity to be “uncensored and unfiltered in a way that I haven’t been able to do with the other platforms I’ve had so far.”
As protests in support of Black Lives Matter continue to take place all over the country, Lindsay emphasized that justice has not been served for many black women, including Breonna Taylor, who have been victims of police brutality.
“The cops haven’t been arrested in that situation, and it’s almost been very overshadowed because it fell in between the news with Ahmaud Arbery and then George,” she explained. “I have to find myself continuing to remind people, ‘Don’t forget about Breonna Taylor.’”
The reality star said at another protest in Miami — which she did not attend — Taylor’s name was left out of the flyer.
“I’m sure it was an oversight, but that is the point,” she said. “You’re not seeing us. It is constantly this oversight when it comes to the social injustices toward black women.”
Lindsay encourages non-black people who want to be allies to speak up and to take action.
“There are so many different ways in which you can take action … by posting, by letting people know you’re aware, by sharing your own story of how maybe you were ignorant before, how you did choose to be silent because of whatever reason. You were scared, you didn’t know, you chose to ignore it. And I think donating to these causes — maybe you don’t know how to use your voice — but donate to a cause that does.”
Lindsay also recommended that people continue to educate themselves on these issues by watching documentaries or reading books on the subject.