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ABC casts first black ‘Bachelorette,’ and it’s Rachel Lindsay from this season’s ‘The Bachelor’

Rachel Lindsay and Nick Viall in a shot from "The Bachelor."
Rachel Lindsay and Nick Viall in a shot from “The Bachelor.”
(Mark Coffey / ABC)

ABC has cast its first black lead to front “The Bachelorette.”

Rachel Lindsay, a Texas attorney who is currently a contestant on “The Bachelor,” has been tapped for the 13th season — which premieres on May 22— of “The Bachelorette,” a source close to the show told The Times.

Earlier today, “The Bachelor” creator Mike Fleiss teased on Twitter that something “historic” would come Monday night.

“We’re thrilled to have Rachel Lindsay as our next Bachelorette,” said Robert Mills, senior vice president, alternative series, specials and late night for ABC, in a statement.

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“This coveted role is always reserved for a fan-favorite from the previous season, and Rachel is no exception and has been the fans’ choice since she exited the limo. She is an accomplished, confident and beautiful woman who knows what she wants in life. We all look forward to joining her on the joyous journey as she looks for that one special man.”

Linsday’s rise to “The Bachelorette” comes after years of criticism against ABC for the racially homogeneous casting on the reality franchise, which began in 2002 with “The Bachelor.”

The news — which would indicate that Lindsay was unsuccessful in vying for the attention of this season’s “Bachelor” Nick Viall — is expected to be announced during Monday’s episode of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!”

The network and its producers have long faced criticism over the series’ lack of diversity, particularly when it comes to its leads. The only blip in the franchise’s diversity record has been with American-born Venezuelan Juan Pablo Galavis.

'Bachelors' and 'Bachelorettes' through the years.
(ABC, Getty Images, WireImage, FilmMagic)

There were other moments when it seemed as if the calls for change had been heard. Former ABC Entertainment chief Paul Lee, who had made improving diversity a priority during his years at the network, had suggested the franchise was in for a shift last year. But that change never arrived.

New ABC entertainment President Channing Dungey, the first African American woman to run a broadcast entertainment division, told reporters over the summer at the Television Critics Assn. press tour that the problem was finding more diverse candidates at the onset, given that leads are often picked from the previous cycle of “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette.”

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“We need to increase the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning,” Dungey said. “That is something we really want to put some effort and energy toward.”

To date, Viall’s season, which premiered last month, features the most diverse roundup of contestants — with 22 white and eight nonwhite female contestants at the start of the cycle. It’s an improvement compared with the previous season of “The Bachelor,” with Ben Higgins, which had five nonwhite contestants. Meanwhile, 2015’s “Bachelor” season featured just one nonwhite contestant.

The most-read Entertainment stories this hour »

yvonne.villarreal@latimes.com

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Twitter: @villarrealy

ALSO

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Why are ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘The Bachelorette’ so white? Lifetime’s ‘UnREAL’ explores the issue

FROM THE ARCHIVES: Did ABC break its promise for a more diverse ‘Bachelorette’?

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Meet ABC’s newest ‘Bachelor,’ Nick Viall, looking for love for a fourth time


UPDATES:

9:25 p.m. — This article was updated with show information and comments from ABC executives.


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