DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Reality TV, maybe you've noticed, is not always particularly reflective of reality. That is true in many ways. But one glaring deviation from real life is that reality stars don't always look like the rest of America. After 12 seasons, ABC's hit show "The Bachelorette" is taking a step to diversify, casting the first black bachelorette. And our co-host Rachel Martin spoke with Rachel Lindsay, the woman looking for love on national television.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "THE BACHELORETTE")
DEAN UNGLERT: I ready to go black, and I'm never going to go back.
RACHEL LINDSAY: (Laughter) I love that.
RACHEL MARTIN, BYLINE: That was one of Rachel Lindsay's suitors meeting her for the first time. The show has faced controversy over the years, even a lawsuit, for its lack of diversity. And this season, race is sure to play a central role. A reminder of the premise here - the bachelor or, in this case, the bachelorette spends weeks going on dates with contestants with the hope of finding true love. And the camera is following them the whole time. Rachel Lindsay was a contestant on last season's "Bachelor." She fell in love with Nick, but in the end, he chose someone else. However, ABC cast Rachel Lindsay as the next Bachelorette.
Rachel Lindsay, thanks for being with us.
LINDSAY: Thank you for having me.
LINDSAY: Thank you.
MARTIN: I mean, it's this weird situation where you didn't win on the last season of "The Bachelor." But you won because you get to be the new Bachelorette.
LINDSAY: Yes, yes. I mean, who would have known this would have taken this turn of events?
LINDSAY: But I am very excited to be the bachelorette.
MARTIN: Of all the ways to find love these days, why did you think - yeah, reality TV - that's where it's going to happen for me?
LINDSAY: I - well, my coworkers actually signed me up for the show. So it wasn't originally my idea. But I thought - you know what? - this is the one area of my life I'm not focusing on, and here I have the chance to shut out all outside distractions and just focus on finding love.
MARTIN: Rachel is an attorney from Texas, and she says work takes up a lot of her time. She was with someone for five years, but after that ended, it was hard to get back to dating. So despite never having watched "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette," she decided this could be her chance. When you watch the show, as I have for many years now, you start to understand that it's a highly produced thing that ends up going out to the world - the biggest drama, the biggest fights are really played up. So you didn't know that going in. You were kind of free from that.
LINDSAY: I didn't have that experience by any means on the show. Like, nothing was exaggerated. Everything was real. You know, people ask me all the time - do you feel like you were depicted as, you know, who you really are? And I'm like - yes, that was me. You know, that's why I say I was so surprised on the show because I might not have known about "Bachelor" specifically, but I know the perception of reality TV shows. And it was nothing like that.
MARTIN: I want to ask you about breaking glass ceilings, for lack of a better phrase, 'cause you're the first black bachelorette.
LINDSAY: Yes, I am.
MARTIN: There hasn't been a black bachelor. How does that sit with you?
LINDSAY: I mean, I'll be honest. When I was first approached, I couldn't believe it. But I was also very nervous because to be the first at anything, that's terrifying. And I was representing myself as a woman, as a professional, as somebody in their 30s and being black. But it was such a great opportunity. Just, the pros outweighed the cons.
MARTIN: Did producers talk to you about how to bring up race or whether to at all? Because this - I mean, we should be honest. For 15 years, this show's been on. Diversity has been a real problem. It's almost always white people falling in love with white people.
LINDSAY: Yeah. No, they actually didn't. And I'm a pretty direct, opinionated, straightforward person. And I don't think it would really go well if someone told me what to do or say. So if I talked about race like I did with Nick, I did that because I wanted to. I think it was just a really relevant issue to address, and I wanted to do the same thing on my journey.
MARTIN: So we should say - in that last season, you told Nick that you had never dated a white guy seriously until him. Does that mean that you pushed for a more diverse group of male contestants on this new season?
LINDSAY: I did. I - you know, I was asked what I typically date, who I like, what I'm attracted to. You know, I really don't have a specific race that I go towards or that I typically date. And I really wanted the men that were coming out of the limo on the first night for me to reflect that.
MARTIN: Although I have to ask you - some of the bios have been released now for the contestants.
MARTIN: And - (laughter)...
LINDSAY: I haven't - I have not read them.
MARTIN: Oh, have you not read these?
LINDSAY: So this will be fun because you'll be surprising me.
MARTIN: Aha, OK. I'll just read a couple of them. Jamey, 32, is a sales account executive who says he does not have female friends and wants his ideal date to look like a model.
MARTIN: Dean, 26, is a startup recruiter who has righteous tattooed on his inner lip. He thinks marriage is a, quote, "institutionalized sham."
LINDSAY: (Laughter) OK.
MARTIN: I know you can't talk to us about how the season ends up or any of the details. But going into it, were you like, yeah, OK, I could see myself partnering up with someone? Or were you just, like, eye-rolling?
LINDSAY: No, no. I mean, I'm an eye-roller by nature.
LINDSAY: But, you know, I went beyond the looks. And I learned that I had men that were my age, some older, some with great careers. So I was pleasantly surprised 'cause I felt like I was hard to match.
MARTIN: What's your family make of all of this stuff?
LINDSAY: You know, my - I'm - it's no secret. I can be skeptical. That doesn't come, you know, just out of the sky. My family...
MARTIN: Is it - is that a trait?
LINDSAY: ...Can be that way too.
LINDSAY: And they - you know, they were skeptical, but they know that I want this. And they want to see me get what I want, so they're very supportive of that.
MARTIN: What do you do now? This new season has wrapped up. Presumably, you have found the man of your dreams (laughter).
LINDSAY: Can I tell you that I'm a hundred percent in love and I'm actually engaged?
LINDSAY: Yes (laughter).
MARTIN: For real?
LINDSAY: I'm so serious. I'm so excited. I wish I could tell you who, but I can't.
MARTIN: Nobody paid you to say that?
LINDSAY: No. I...
MARTIN: It's real?
LINDSAY: Remember I told you - they can't make me say anything. I'm (laughter) - they know better. No, I'm engaged.
MARTIN: Well, congratulations.
LINDSAY: Thank you.
MARTIN: That's exciting and also weird that you can't be public about it.
LINDSAY: I know. I'm so excited. I want to tell everyone.
MARTIN: Rachel Lindsay - she is the star of the new season of "The Bachelorette."
It has been so fun to talk to you, Rachel.
LINDSAY: Same here.
MARTIN: Good luck with everything.
LINDSAY: Thank you so much. Thanks for having me.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "MY GIRL")
THE TEMPTATIONS: (Singing) I've got sunshine...
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Sing it, David. You know you want to.
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