On the heels of Chris Harrison's temporary exit from the Bachelor franchise, Rachel Lindsay is sharing her thoughts on the shocking sequence of events and weighed in on whether she would ever tackle the unique hosting gig.
Harrison's Feb. 13 announcement that he would be stepping aside from hosting and the After the Final Rose special came mere days after he sparked criticism for comments about photos of current contestant Rachael Kirkconnell at a 2018 antebellum plantation-themed fraternity formal. Kirkconnell has since issued an apology and said she is learning "how to be antiracist."
As for Harrison, he surprised Lindsey with his initial comments during their virtual interview. "Chris is somebody who has been the face of the franchise for so many years," Lindsay exclusively told E! News. "You usually get the PC answer from him, so I was a little shocked that he wanted to talk a little bit more on the subject."
Whether or not his initial attitude reflected anything more, Lindsay did not want to belabor the situation. "I think that he has apologized at this point, so I don't really want to go into it too much because he's apologized not once, not twice and he seems to be taking the steps that are necessary to really learn from this whole experience," she said. "I'm just happy for the level of awareness and to sit and see what happens next."
However, as she pointed out, "I think he has admitted the way the interview went, to use his own words, 'perpetuated racism,' so I think that he is aware of some of the things that went wrong in that interview and is willing to grow for it."
Lindsay also weighed in on Kirkconnell's apology. "I mean, it's an apology. We been asking for it for a long time," she told E!. "I think it's a little bit after the fact, but she apologized. It was a great written statement and it's just holding her accountable to the things she said she is going to commit to and that's all we can do at this point."
Now, mere days after Harrison's swift announcement, the future of the franchise is a mystery. "I don't think anybody knows what's next," Lindsay said. "I think we are all going to be waiting and seeing."
As she faces critics blaming her for Harrison stepping aside, others have called for Lindsay to replace him as host. Would she consider it if given the opportunity? "Honestly, I am not even thinking about that," she said. "I think the bigger picture is that there is an issue and Chris is recognizing it, other people are recognizing and I think if my message is to really make change and to really create a level of awareness, then I can't be focused on trying to take somebody else's job. I am just focused on really us getting to a place of unity where we can all be better."
Part of that improvement will involve having people of color involved in the franchise's decision-making, according to Lindsay. "I think the only way real change will happen is if the people who are making the decision—they all look the same—so hopefully having somebody of color in the decision room, who has some power, who can help not just diversify and include more," she said, "but also understand, who come from these experiences as well."
In the meantime, she and husband Bryan Abasolo are also focusing on another important effort: The #Nicklaus4Kids campaign, which launched on Feb. 16 to raise funds and awareness for Nicklaus Children's Hospital. Florida residents can also play a 50/50 raffle for a chance to win a cash prize.
"We're really excited to team up with Nicklaus Children's Hospital because it is without a doubt a beacon of hope in the South Florida community and we're just really proud to be supporting this cause," Abasolo told E!. "It basically helps make miracles happen for a quarter of a million kids who are treated at Niklaus Children's Hospital every year and we're just obviously super excited to help out."