ABC’s First Black Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay is Taking Control of Her Own Narrative

Rachel Lindsay comes from a family of Longhorns. Her parents, both first-generation college students, met at UT. Many of their siblings followed. This is exactly why, as an 18-year-old from Dallas, she wanted to go anywhere but The University of Texas. “I wanted to break free, I wanted to be in a bigger city, I wanted to spread my wings,” she says over Zoom from Los Angeles. She was devastated when her parents told her NYU was too far (it was only a few years after 9/11) and resigned herself to the Forty Acres. 

Of course, as the story often goes, Lindsay, BS ’07, fell in love with UT the moment she stepped on campus. And despite being only a few hours from home, it became the springboard for a life in which she’s spread her wings farther than she ever could have imagined, from becoming a high-powered attorney and one of Bachelor Nation’s most well-known stars to a media personality, podcaster, and now, author.  

First a contestant on the 21st season of The Bachelor, Lindsay became the franchise’s first Black Bachelorette. After trying to change that show from within, she became one of its most vocal critics. In Miss Me with That, her collection of wide-ranging essays out Jan. 25, Lindsay—with the same signature down-to-earth voice and wit that made her such a beloved reality TV star—opens up about that journey, and about plenty more, including her childhood and her pre-Bachelor dating life. The Alcalde chatted with Lindsay about why it was so important for her to tell her story.  

After graduating from UT, you got your law degree from Marquette University and were working as an attorney. Then you ended up as a contestant on The Bachelor. How did that happen?  

I hit a wall with law and just didn’t feel fulfilled. Then I saw an ad for The Bachelor. I wasn’t practicing sports and entertainment law at the time, which was my focus in law school. And I thought, OK, this could give me a bigger platform for my career … but then also, who knows, I could fall in love. And surprisingly, my dad was like, “OK,” and my mom just kind of went along with it. The Bachelorette was a totally different story. Because they knew I would be the lead, they knew I would be the first [Black Bachelorette], and they were terrified for me.  

Were you terrified, too?  

I had the same fears that my parents had because when you’re a trailblazer, everyone’s watching you—but not always for the best reason. It’s almost like you’re a unicorn, or a creature they’ve never seen before. 

But then someone I knew came up to me about The Bachelor, and said, “My daughter watches the show, I’m so happy you’re on it, I know you’ll represent yourself well.”  

That’s a lot of responsibility. What would you say to someone who’s taking on the role of being the first?  

I was very fortunate because I grew up in a family where I saw firsts happen. Both of my parents are first-generation college students. I saw my dad become the first Black city attorney in Dallas, and then I saw him become the first Black federal judge in the northern district in Dallas. As a kid I saw somebody take on those challenges and those hardships, and I admired it.   

To have the opportunity to be a first is huge. That’s what I focused on to get over that fear. And that’s what I would tell anybody else who has an opportunity—because that’s what it is—to be a first. You were picked to be that first for a reason, and you should wear that with a badge of honor, rather than hiding behind fear.  

You’ve talked often about feeling like you couldn’t be yourself on the show. Is this book a way to rectify that?  

Yes, of course. It’s almost like me speaking to myself when I was in my 20s. I wanted to write the book because my life has changed so much, and so much of what I was doing was dictated by fear. And being treated as the country’s most eligible bachelorette—there’s a level of perfection that’s attached to you. And we are so far from that. So, I almost wanted to break myself down from that image.  

After your interview with Chris Harrison, he was ultimately ousted from the show. How do you continue to be so vulnerable in such public spaces? 

It’s a struggle. I literally have PTSD from that interview … from watching it, from the aftermath. Friendships were lost over it; people were calling my job asking for me to get fired. It was total harassment; it was a really tough time. But I guess I couldn’t live with myself if I held back. I just never want to live in a place of regrets, and I feel like I was given this platform for a reason, and I have a certain purpose, and I’m supposed to live that out.  

You’re making a choice to speak your mind every day, but does that come at a cost?  

I have a whole chapter on mental health. And it’s probably my favorite in the book, because I talk about how I got into therapy and why. It’s interesting in the journey I go through, and the stigma in the community when it comes to Black people … you’re supposed to pray your problems away. I struggled with religion versus therapy, but that is what has kept me grounded. That is what’s kept me sane. Meditating, yoga, just taking a break.   

What’s next for you?  

Honestly, the unknown excites me. When I came off the show, I had no idea I would be doing what I’m doing now. I wasn’t thinking big enough. I want to stay connected to people. I want to continue to encourage people to dream, and then act on those dreams. I was told to go out, to work hard, to be independent, but on the straight line. And I want people to know it’s OK to go after the things that you really want for yourself, and not what somebody else wants for you.  

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

CREDIT: Katie Ruther


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