Rachel Lindsay On Representation In Reality TV And The Importance Of Self-Care - Exclusive Interview

Rachel Lindsay is a woman with many talents and one that needs no introduction to Bachelor Nation fans. The "Extra" correspondent and lawyer was the first Black Bachelorette and the first Black lead of the entire "Bachelor" franchise. Popular "Bachelor" franchise recapper, Bachelor Fantake, called Lindsay's season one of the "greatest of all times." Lindsay not only left engaged with her first impression rose pick, Bryan Abasolo, after her 2017 season, but she got married to him in 2019 – a rare occurrence in Bachelor Nation. The couple recently celebrated their third wedding anniversary and have enjoyed their time together away from the spotlight.

From interviewing Dr. Anthony Fauci for "Extra" to hosting a successful podcast with Van Lathan, Lindsay has also come a long way in her professional life since her season aired in 2017. Rachel Lindsay spoke exclusively to The List about the importance of diversity in reality TV casting, her secret to a successful marriage, and her self-care tips for anyone who wants to wind down after a busy day.

Rachel Lindsay reflects back on her time as the Bachelorette

As the first Black lead of the entire Bachelor franchise, you were a trailblazer. Reflecting back, how did you feel in that moment?

I didn't feel. That's what was a gift and a curse, because when I look back, that was a little over five years ago. I didn't realize what I was getting myself into. I understood that I was going to be a first, but because I didn't watch the "Bachelor" franchise prior to being on it, I didn't grasp the magnitude of the situation. I wasn't in deep with Bachelor Nation, so I didn't really understand it. 

I knew and felt that this was something that I had to do, to represent myself as a Black woman and as a Black lead, because audiences hadn't seen someone in that role before, but also to show that my story doesn't have to be any different because the color of my skin is. I felt like this was a beautiful opportunity to express myself to this audience in that way.

I also was looking at it [as] representation, but I felt like I could do it right; I could do it well. I didn't think, "I'm going to fall in love and have this fairytale life." I was open to it, but I'm such a skeptical person, I didn't believe that would happen. I didn't understand how big it was. There was this moment right before I was about to announce on Jimmy Kimmel, and I was currently in trial. I had left trial to go fly to Jimmy Kimmel to announce being a Bachelorette.

I was getting dressed at the hotel, the Roosevelt, before, and I remember the stylist saying, "The Hollywood Reporter's already picked it up," and I said, "What's the Hollywood Reporter?" It was so far from any world that I knew; coming from the legal world, I was like, "Okay, well, what's that mean?" I remember he explained it to me. At that moment, I didn't understand the media aspect of it. 

I had just gotten a Twitter. I wasn't involved. After getting out of "The Bachelor," I started seeing it was picked up by BBC and CNN and everywhere. I was like, "What did I get myself into?" I'm glad that I didn't look at it that way at first, because I probably would've become overwhelmed and said no. Because I didn't think of it like that, it wasn't as big to me until later.

Rachel says representation is important on reality TV

Something I hear from a lot of fellow people of color: As a "Bachelor watcher," there's not many fellow people of color that watch the show. When I talk about it, sometimes I hear, "There are several career paths that lack diversity and representation," such as STEM, politics, journalism, and law. I hear, "Why should we be pushing for representation in reality TV shows where we may be subject to stereotypical depictions, when we could be focusing maybe on other industries where POC are also underrepresented?"

That's a valid point to make, and I totally understand it, but I also come from the school of thought of, "What if we had that attitude towards other industries?" People underestimate the power of reality television, and I say this as a fan of it. I might not have been a fan of "The Bachelor," but I'm a fan of so many other reality TV shows. I don't think people understand the cultural impact that reality TV has on a certain sector of the world, or of this country, and how influential it is to how they perceive certain people in society, because they don't have proximity to them.

When I was in law school in Wisconsin, I went to school with a lot of people from small-town Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan. A lot of times, they would say to me, "You're so different," or, "You're not like what I thought." Their perception of me was what they had seen on television or read about or whatever they listened to, because they weren't around a diverse group of Black people. That comes from reality TV. 

How Rachel's law education helped her as a correspondent

How does it feel going from a career in law to becoming a correspondent for "Extra"?

A lot of similarities, actually. I will be forever grateful for my law degree, because it teaches you how to think, but also how to communicate — definitely for me, because I went into litigation. A lot of what I did as a litigator, when I'm not in the courtroom, is understanding witnesses and experts and those individuals that are involved and try putting together a story to present to a judge or to a jury, or putting a story together with evidence and whatever it may be.

A lot of that is what I do when I'm preparing for an interview. Interviews are a lot more entertaining than life, but I would do a lot of depositions where I had to do research and understand how to ask questions a certain way so I could pull things out of this person that I was interviewing because it was going to help my case or help tell a story, which is a lot of what I do interviewing celebrities or artists or whatever it may be.

It has helped me to do that, but in a much more fun way. Even though depositions and cross examinations and direct examinations can be very fun, those communication skills really have helped me in what I do now for "Extra" [and] also helped me on "The Bachelor." I knew how to get to the point.

What has been your favorite interview thus far?

I've had a lot of amazing interviews. I'm very fortunate that I've had that opportunity to interview people that I never thought I would either breathe the same air as or that they would film me – Brad Pitt, you could've probably guessed, but I still can't believe it, because this is the man who hasn't been in movies in three years. He rarely does interviews, and he finally does one after those three years, and I am the one chosen to do this interview. Not only do I get to do it, it was a good time. I got to talk to him for like five minutes, and I felt like we were two old friends talking.

A lot of times, people say, "Where are the legends? The legends are leaving us. We don't have true Hollywood stars anymore." When you interview a Tom Cruise or a Brad Pitt or Denzel Washington, those are the legends to me, or at least from my generation. To have that opportunity to talk to him about the craft, about what he's doing, about his personal life, and for him to answer those questions and play along — I'm still on a Brad Pitt high. I really am. He's as magical as you would think he is.

Her podcast with Van Lathan dives deep into social issues

You also host a podcast called "Higher Learning on The Ringer with Van Lathan." In a nutshell, what sort of topics do you both discuss on the podcast?

We talk about current affairs, politics, but also how those things intersect with Black culture. We get into entertainment. We get into sports, we get into questions and debates that people are having on social media or that are causing a rise with people. I would describe our podcast as a family reunion, and we're like brothers and sisters. 

It's a good time, but we want you to feel like you're pulling your feet up at the dinner table, arguing with us, agreeing with us, laughing with us, crying with us. We really don't hold back how we feel about certain things, whether it's the topic or what we're going through personally, and our audiences — that has really resonated with them.

We started this podcast in May 2020, and they'll write history books about the year 2020, but particularly May 2020 for everything that was going on. Our podcast was a reflection of that. It was the pulse of what was happening in the community. Some days we were laughing and some days we were crying, and people really connected with [how] we were being honest about how we were feeling, and they felt that same way. Also, people came to us to learn and to understand what was happening in our culture.

It's really been beautiful. If you leave Bachelor Nation and do something outside of it, it's always really a nerve-racking thing, because people want to hear you talk about "Bachelor" and "Bachelor"-related things. To have so many people come from that world over to "Higher Learning" has really been so beautiful, that they want to hear more of what you have to do and you as a person, and not just connecting you to this franchise. I'm really grateful for "Higher Learning" and all of our thought warriors.

Rachel is grateful for her strong support system

How are you able to manage being a TV correspondent, a podcast host, a wife, and also a dog mom?

I don't manage. That's the honest truth. Some days, I'm great at one thing and some days, I'm terrible at another. That is the honest truth. I wish I could say that I get decent time and I'm great in every single area, but it's impossible. I'm fortunate where I have a great support system in Bryan, and even with my family, where I couldn't get everything done if I didn't have that and I didn't have anyone help me.

That's really it. I take things one day at a time, which is hard for me, because I'm so type A. Some days, I want to plan out my entire week and how it's supposed to go and what I'm supposed to do. The best way I do it is I take it one day at a time. I have a calendar. I have an incredible assistant, and that with the support system keeps me going.

Rachel's favorite wines are from Kim Crawford

I've been told you like relaxing with a good glass of wine. Can you tell me more about your partnership with Kim Crawford wines?

I love wine. I really do. I became a wine lover during the pandemic, during quarantine. I say that in a responsible way. It became the whole thing for me while we were in quarantine in Miami. We weren't really shut down that long. Bryan's office was across the street. I was home, only podcasting. It became a thing of, work a while, walk the dog, cooking, and then Bryan and I would chill and play game night over a glass of wine.

It's something amazing when you get to partner with a company where you've been using their product organically and genuinely long before you messaged me to do something. That is me and Kim Crawford. I'm a huge fan of Kim Crawford. It's [such] a part of my life that I realized when I invite girlfriends over to come watch one of our "Housewives" shows, or just come over and talk — we just got a new house, so I love having people over to host. They're like, "Oh my gosh, you have Kim Crawford. I love it too." I'm like, "See? The girl knows her wines," especially over the last couple of years.

What I realized is, whenever things are crazy, and they always are, or at the end of the day, or now on the weekends when I'm able to spend time at home, Bryan and the dogs playing by the pool and drinking a glass of wine and reading a book, that is how I like to wind down. It calms me and soothes me. It's my happy place, whether it's by the pool, whether it's in front of a Bravo show, or whether it's in the tub with the candles and the lights off and the bubble bath. That is one of my favorite things to do with a glass of wine.

Rachel loves to wind down with wine

What are your Kim Crawford wine recommendations for people who have a sweet tooth and for those who don't?

People ask, "What's your wine of choice?" I like red, white, rosé, whatever, but my go-to is white wine, specifically sauvignon blanc, the Kim Crawford sauvignon blanc, because it's light, it's crisp. Whether you're drinking it earlier in the night, if you're laying by the pool, it's refreshing. It's sweet, but not too sweet. I don't like too sweet of a wine. It's perfect. It goes with everything. If you want a — I say morning, but I mean brunch — morning to night, it's perfect. That's my favorite.

[There's] also, rosé all day. The rosé. Kim Crawford has the best rosé as well. They really do. I've [had] Summer House, [which] is all about the rosé, and I'm like, "Y'all need to get on that Kim Crawford rosé," because there's something about rosé that says a party, too. When I have people over, moreso, or if I'm hosting brunch, or like right now I have my in-laws — they were here over this weekend, and we had rosé. It's great for that, in my opinion.

If you want something lighter, they've got a sauvignon blanc ... it's the Illuminate. It's 70 calories per serving. 70 calories! My mother-in-law goes, "Does that really say 70 calories?" I said, "Yes, it does." It's light, and it tastes exactly the same as the other sauvignon blanc, but it's only 70 calories.

What are your favorite self-care activities?

It varies. One day it could be, and in this order: meditation, yoga, sauna. When I have some time to do that, I love that. Now that we are new homeowners, I love to lie by the pool, or in the pool, really, with a glass of wine, Kim Crawford, and reading a book and soaking in the sun, because it's nice. If I get too hot, I can dip in, and then I lay out. The dogs are out there. Sometimes, I have some music. That's really great for me when I have time to do that on the weekend.

I'm going to go back to that bubble bath. That bubble bath is the way I like to wind down. If I'm not listening to music, I'm watching something from the "Real Housewives," one of those franchises. That winds me down too. I laugh, escape, and drink some wine. I'm completely relaxed in the tub. Whatever mood I'm feeling in, that's what I'm going to do to relax. It usually always involves a glass of wine. I'm sweating it out the next day in the sauna.

Privacy is key to a successful post-Bachelor relationship

Bryan and you recently celebrated your third wedding anniversary. For a series where it's rare to see couples transition from the "Bachelor" bubble to real life, you're an example of the process working out. What was that transition like?

I've said it before, but the show is not designed for people to succeed. I'm not blaming this on production. It's the setup of the show. You fall in love in such a magical way, in this bubble. You're protected from the world. All of a sudden, the world finds out who you picked, and they're never happy with it. The difficult thing is the whole world has an opinion on the decision that you made, and they're not holding back from sharing that with you. 

For us, it was shocking. You're celebrating the happiest day that you feel of your life, and you're so happy to finally not keep it a secret, and the world is like, "Okay, but wait, tell me about this breakup. What happened? Why did you make this decision?"

It was a very easy decision to say, "You know what? We are going to have each other's back. We know what we have. We trust in that, and we're going to remove ourselves from the spotlight." We went to Dallas. Bryan ended up moving to Dallas with me. We surrounded ourselves with family and friends, people who know us and love us, who we trust, and we built a strong foundation. We always found a way to communicate with each other no matter what, and not allow outside influence to determine our relationship. That's been key.

I recently wrote about how so many people have an opinion because I don't post Bryan that much, and I share my professional life. They think that I'm prioritizing that over Bryan, and that's not the case. It's just that my brand...I get it. People met us on TV. They fell in love with us. We do share some things. We don't share everything. That's not our MO. That's what other couples do, and that's fine, that works for them. 

We've found it's better to share certain things and not everything. I don't want people to be dependent on being fed by what's happening in our relationship. We share what we share;, what we don't, we don't. We know we're great, and that's all that really matters.

Visit the Kim Crawford Wines website to find a location near you where you can purchase and responsibly enjoy their wine offerings.

This interview has been edited for clarity, length, and content.