The Bachelorette, Black Lives Matter and Burnout: A Night with Rachel Lindsay

I haven’t had many exciting Friday nights throughout this pandemic, so when I had the opportunity through my school to join a Webinar with the one and only Rachel Lindsay, I jumped at the chance.

Rachel Lindsay is most well known for being a contestant on Nick Viall’s season of The Bachelor, and then going on to become the first black Bachelorette. Before reality TV, however, she obtained a Bachelor’s degree in sports management from The University of Texas at Austin and her J.D degree at Marquette University in Wisconsin.

She currently juggles a multitude of occupations. She works for Extra, hosts MTV’s Ghosted: Love Gone Missing, co-hosts her podcast Higher Learning with Van Lathan where they talk about everything from politics, pop culture, sports, and how they intersect with Black culture in order to spark deeper conversation. She also co-hosts the podcast Bachelor Happy Hour with friend and fellow past Bachelor contestant Becca Kufrin where they speak about all things Bachelor related.

This self-proclaimed “talker” had so much insight to offer us on everything from her career, her marriage, activism, and some behind the scenes of The Bachelor.

On Her Career

Rachel is no stranger to being underestimated and having to prove herself. Being a young, Black, female attorney proved its difficulties. “People would call me sweetheart, darling...” She felt as though her colleagues didn’t take her seriously. So last night when asked if she ever felt like she had to prove to people that she is more than her reality TV/Internet personality, she immediately said yes.

“People reduce you to just being a reality TV star even though you had an entire life, career, ups and downs before.” She tried to work for ESPN after coming off the show but was rejected because they felt she was too deep into the reality TV world and was not known enough for sports. This only motivated her to work harder. She started working smaller jobs and building up her sports resume. So now when people ask, “Aren’t you that Bachelorette?” She responds, “Yes, but I am also this.” Her main message in all this was to take rejection, criticism, etc., and use it as motivation to work harder and prove people wrong.

On The Bachelorette and Behind the Scenes

Did you know rose ceremonies actually take hours to film? This was news to me when Rachel said it. The lead (either the Bachelor or Bachelorette) says 3-4 names of people they give roses to at a time, leave the room, come back and say 3-4 more, then repeat. This ensures that the lead says the correct names in the correct order, and that the cameras and mics are in the right spots. After being on both sides of the illustrious rose ceremony, Rachel explains that they are as awkward as they sound.

“I’ve never been fishing in my life, but I guess I have.” Rachel laughs as she recounts her time as the Bachelorette. Although she was very skeptical about the bachelor process working for her she–spoiler alert–did indeed find her husband. Rachel and Florida chiropractor Bryan Abasolo have been together since meeting on the show in 2017, married in 2019, and are still together today.

She did not think she was going to find love, but she explains, “When you’re in that Bachelor bubble everything is exaggerated. Everything is romantic.” She talked about how in normal life dates are much more lowkey, but when you’re with a potential match in a hot air balloon in Spain, “How do you not fall in love with someone you’re doing that with?”

She said she knew by hometowns that she was going to choose Brian. She feels it got easier as time went on to narrow it down, but what didn’t get easier was sending the other men home. “You still feel connected to these people no matter what, so that’s why it gets harder and harder to break their hearts.” At the end of the day though, she knew she was doing them a favor because her heart was not with them. Brian was the one she could picture being with outside of all the glitz and glamor.

Rachel also gave us the inside scoop on what the environment is really like on the show. A few questions were asked about vulnerability, and she didn’t hesitate to answer honestly. She explains how you are constantly in touch with your feelings because there is nothing else to think about with no outside distractions. “It’s like quarantine! Everything is stripped away. It makes you prioritize what’s important.”

She got candid about how she started therapy about a year before going on The Bachelor so she felt more comfortable talking about feelings. Despite all of the conversations had on the show, she still holds onto a good amount of privacy. “I more so talked within the [Bachelor] world, rather than my experience outside of it.”

On the Black Lives Matter Movement and Racial Issues within the Franchise

Activism is nothing new for Rachel. In 2013 she protested by herself in Dallas against the murder of Trayvon Martin. She has always been outspoken and fought for the rights of others. In February 2020, she explains how she was, “rocked to my core” with the murder of Ahmaud Arbery. And when the murders and brutality did not end there and as the movement caught more attention over the summer, she continued to speak out.

“I couldn’t walk three steps in my apartment without crying.” She recalls the moment when she knew she had to do more to help. The Bachelor had given her platform like no other, and she used it to her advantage.

She thinks it was a shame it took until 2017 to have a black Bachelorette, and she was both excited and nervous when she accepted the role. “When I accepted it, it wasn’t just for me it was for everybody that looked like me.” She felt a level of responsibility to do well because she did not want to be the first and last. It was a rollercoaster of emotions for her as black women are not often adored or sought after on television, so it was a special and overwhelming feeling.

Rachel Lindsay has now become the driving force behind pushing for a more diverse and inclusive Bachelor franchise. She has taken on a “big sister” role to other contestants of color. However, throughout all of this, she has a love-hate relationship with the franchise. “It’s like a family to me.” She says. She gets frustrated when she sees things happen within it that she doesn’t like.

In regard to the recent events involving host Chris Harrison’s insensitive statements about systemic racism, she admits she was “shocked but not surprised.” This is why she continues to speak up. At the same time, however, she is hopeful. With the addition of Tayshia Adams as the most recent Bachelorette, the current Matt James as the first black Bachelor, hiring a diversity coordinator who works behind the scenes, and the statements put out by the women of Matt’s season about Harrison’s remarks, she sees that some change is being made. Her focus remains on continuing to only move forward and eliminating all backward steps.

To conclude the night, Rachel spoke about allyship with people of color. The most important takeaway she kept repeating was to “seek out your own knowledge.” You must be proactive. Listening to the voices of others is key. She understands that we live in a society driven by cancel culture, so it can be scary to speak out in fear of saying the wrong thing, but she says to simply ask or look it up if you don’t understand something.

Rachel lives by the notion that if she feels like she is making a difference, it’s fulfilling. If she feels burnt out or is not seeing changes, it is not worth her time. Listening to her speak and spending this time with her last night was empowering, entertaining, and enlightening.

You can find Rachel at @therachlindsay on Instagram and Twitter, @bachelorhappyhour on Instagram, and using the hashtag #honestlyrach.