Chris Harrison says the Bachelor team has made real strides in their effort to promote inclusion and diversity across the franchise. As he told ET’s Lauren Zima on Tuesday, the changes were enacted following the executive producers’ public pledge in June are now coming to fruition.
“Change… never happens fast enough. It does take a long time to turn around a big ship, and this is a big ship. But the strides we made are now baring fruit,” Harrison said. Step one was recognizing “there was an issue in the first place,” he noted.
The executive producers’ June statement acknowledged their responsibility for the “lack of representation of people of color,” and included a pledge to make “significant changes” moving forward. They had already made one big “stride” casting their first black Bachelor in Matt James.
Clare Crawley, whose season of The Bachelorette premieres Oct. 13, is part Mexican, and of the 31 contestants announced on Tuesday, about one third are men of color.
“Obviously we’ve made strides this summer with Matt James, and you will see for yourself with night one on Clare [Crawley’s] season the strides that we have taken to make the entire cast more diverse, so everybody can see themselves represented and everybody can see their love represented,” Harrison said.
Furthermore, ET learned last month that Crawley had fallen for one of her men roughly two weeks into filming, thus exiting her role as Bachelorette. She was replaced by Tayshia Adams, who has become the franchise’s second Black Bachelorette, following Rachel Lindsay.
Lindsay was announced as the first female lead of color in 2017. Of The Bachelor‘s 24 seasons since 2002, only two male leads have not been white: Juan Pablo Galavis in 2014, and Peter Weber in 2020. James is the first black male lead.
In addition to changes in front of the camera, the behind the scenes production has as well, which is one of the things Lindsay called for while speaking with ET in June.
“Our crew and hires that we’ve made are more diverse and just taking action. I’m a big believer that actions speak louder than words, so I’m glad that we didn’t go around beating our chest and saying, ‘Look what we’ve done!’ Because we still need to do more,” Harrison confessed.
“I think when you’re changing you still need to keep learning, you still keep looking. I think we’ll look back years from now and say, ‘Oh yeah, we can still do more,'” he continued. “So I’m proud of the strides we’ve made, but I’m excited to keep continuing that.”
Both Crawley and Adams’ journeys will be featured on the upcoming season of The Bachelorette, premiering Tuesday, Oct. 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.
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