ABC casts first black person as central character in The Bachelor franchise

Lucy Handley, special to CNBC

Attorney Rachel Lindsay is to be the first black person cast as the bachelorette in ABC's reality TV show of the same name, it has been announced.

Lindsay, who is currently appearing as a contestant on sister show The Bachelor, is the first African-American to be cast as the central role in either The Bachelor or The Bachelorette since the franchise started in 2002.

The Bachelorette is a reality TV show in which a single woman chooses a potential husband from around 25 men. Over a number of weeks, the men are gradually eliminated from the contest before one (or more) of them proposes to the bachelorette.

Good Morning America host Michael Strahan asked Lindsay how she felt about being the show's first African-American bachelorette this week.

"I don't feel added pressure, I'm honored to have this opportunity to represent myself as an African American woman and I just hope that people rally behind me like they did in [The Bachelor's] Nick's season, the same way that I hope that they will in my season," Lindsay told him.

"Just realize that my journey is, I'm just trying to find love, just because I'm an African-American woman it's no different from any other bachelorette."

ABC has previously been criticized for the lack of diversity on The Bachelor franchise, with African-Americans Nathaniel Claybrooks and Christopher Johnson unsuccessfully suing ABC in 2012, claiming they were discriminated against during a casting session for The Bachelor.

In February 2016, Channing Dungey became the first African-American person to head a major network, as president of ABC Entertainment. She spoke at the Television Critics Association summer press tour about wanting to make the Bachelor and its sister shows more diverse, saying: "We need to increase the pool of diverse candidates in the beginning. That is something we really want to put some effort and energy towards."

The Bachelor has been one of the most tweeted about TV series, averaging 248,000 tweets per episode between August 2015 and May 2016 according to Nielsen figures.

Lindsay will star in The Bachelorette from May 22.

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