‘Bachelor’ alums, fans call on ABC to diversify contestants in wake of Black Lives Matter protests

Alums and fans of the “Bachelor” franchise, which has cast only one black lead in its 40 seasons casting its foremost two shows, are calling on the long-running reality TV dating competition to more consistently and equally cast contestants of color.

The Bachelor Diversity Campaign, launched Monday by 10 “Bachelor” viewers who connected through a fan Facebook page, implores the ABC franchise to diversify its lineup and “consistently cast BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color)” as protests across the country and around the world have shown support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

“Representation matters, and it is one of the most important ways our country can embrace its diversity and evolve,” read a statement from the group. “We will use our power as viewers and fans to hold ABC and Warner Bros. accountable and demand they use their platform in a more thoughtful, race-conscious, and socially responsible way. It’s time that ABC, Mike Fleiss, and Warner Bros. take demonstrable action to address the inequalities in casting, screen time, and employment of minority groups.”

USA TODAY has reached out to ABC representatives for comment.

Bachelor Diversity Campaign@bachdiversity

@ABCNetwork and @Fleissmeister you say you stand with the Black community—now take ACTION! 40 seasons is long enough. IT’S TIME. Show us you’re anti-racist and cast a #BIPOCBachelor for Season 25. #BachelorSoWhite Sign our petition: http://change.org/bachdiversitycampaign …Sign the PetitionA Campaign For Anti-Racism in the Bachelor Franchisechange.org736:12 PM – Jun 8, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacy53 people are talking about this

The petition, which comes hours ahead of the franchise airing its “greatest hits” compilations of past seasons, calls for “The Bachelor” to cast a black lead for the upcoming 2021 season and ensure that all future seasons feature at least 35% BIPOC contestants. Behind the scenes, it also calls for more screen time for non-white contestants, storylines that reflect their backgrounds and the hiring of a diversity consultant. 

“They should make conscious casting decisions, vet potential contestants more thoroughly, provide resources to viewers, and make a public donation,” the release added. “This moment is an opportunity for ABC and Warner Bros. to mold the franchise we love into one of which we can all be proud and unequivocally support.”

Ashley Spivey, a former contestant who appeared in Brad Womack’s 2011 season, has joined the campaign in calling out the network to increase diversity and inclusion measures. Tyler Cameron, the runner-up from Hannah Brown’s season, followed suit. 

“I can’t believe we have to FORCEFULLY ask them for this,” tweeted Diggy Mooreland, who first appeared on Rachel Lindsay’s season of “The Bachelorette.” 

‘No one else looked liked me’:Rachel Lindsay calls out ‘Bachelorette’ for lack of diversity

Lindsay, who made history in 2017 as the franchise’s first black lead, has been at the forefront of the fight for “The Bachelor” to make the cast look more like the country as a whole. Get the Entertainment newsletter in your inbox.

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She has a history of being vocal about wanting the franchise to cast its first black “Bachelor” star – Mike Johnson, the fifth runner-up in Hannah Brown’s 2019 season of “The Bachelorette,” has been a frontrunner in the fandom. 

“It was sad for me to look around the room and (see that) no one else looked like me,” Lindsay told Us Weekly last year of her time on the show. “It was sad for me to be the sole representation for women of color.”

In a blog post published Monday, Lindsey went into detail to criticize the franchise’s lack of diversity, expressing that “people of color become placeholders as the token person of color to add some flavor.”

“I knew that I wanted to be a trailblazer in this franchise to diversify the lead role, to diversify the contestants trying out and casted for the show, and to diversify the audience watching this show.  Well, I am sad to say that after almost four years in this franchise, we still don’t have the diversity that this show needs, and that our audience deserves,” she wrote.

She recalled the times in which she called out the franchise and its failure to address this diversity issue since 2018.

Lindsey also listed ways the franchise could undergo “a diversity makeover,” with suggestions such as hiring cast leads that are truly interested in dating out of their own race and ending problematic storylines for people of color. 

“Lastly, and maybe the most important action item, the franchise should make a statement acknowledging their systemic racism,” she wrote. “The system is not designed for people of color.”

Just a few weeks ago, former “Bachelorette” star Hannah Brown came under fire for singing the N-word in an Instagram Live stream. (Brown has since apologized and shared anti-racism resources to her social media pages.) Lindsay told her Instagram followers at the time she was “tired of feeling like I have to be the one to speak because other people won’t.”

‘I’m bored’:Former ‘Bachelorette’ Rachel Lindsay weighs in on new ‘Bachelor’ Peter Weber

Catherine Guidici opened up about her casting experience Sunday ahead a condensed version of her and husband Sean Lowe’s season of “The Bachelor” airing Monday night.

“When I was originally cast, I was very flattered but somewhat grounded by the fact that I would be one of the faces that represented people of color,” she wrote in an Instagram post. “I knew that one of the reasons I was probably chosen was because I was Filipino. I counted myself out to be his fiancée because of what I assumed Sean liked. I thought I was there just to check a box, but I ended up with so much more…Don’t count yourself out. You are destined to do bigger things than just check a box.”

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