Rachel Lindsay Reacts to Tayshia Adams as Second Black Bachelorette (Exclusive)

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Rachel Lindsay is opening up about the recent announcement that Tayshia Adams has been cast as the newest Bachelorette. Lindsay says she's "thrilled" by the news and is excited for the upcoming season.

"When I stepped in as Bachelorette, I wanted to pave a way for more diversity, for more people who look like me and who didn’t look like the typical lead," Lindsay -- the first Black Bachelorette in franchise history -- exclusively told ET in a statement Monday. "So to see another Bachelorette of color, I’m thrilled."

"I have been fighting for inclusion, and I‘ve said before that Tayshia would be an excellent Bachelorette, so I am more than happy to pass the torch," Lindsay continued. "I am so excited to see what she’s going to do, how she will represent herself and her journey to find love. Now she’s in the driver’s seat, and I’m excited to see her get this opportunity."

It was reported Monday that the ABC reality show had cast a new lead for season 16, roughly two weeks into filming. Clare Crawley, who was announced as the Bachelorette in early March -- before production was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic -- has been replaced with Adams.

Adams, who was reportedly in the running to be the Bachelorette this cycle alongside Crawley and Tia Booth, told ET just days before Crawley's announcement that she'd love to get the gig.  

With Adams' new role as the Bachelorette, she becomes the second star of the reality dating series who is Black, and this is the first time the franchise has ever had back-to-back leads who are people of color. Matt James became the first Black star of The Bachelor during the most recent season of the hit show.

Whether Adams' casting answers Lindsay's call for greater diversity in the franchise, Lindsay said she's happy about the decision.

"There are other single women in Bachelor Nation that the show could’ve chosen, and there were other alumni who were considered for this role, so I am really happy they chose Tayshia," Lindsay shared. "I do still want to see some additional producers of all colors brought in, but change is being made and I’m happy to see it."

"I’d love to get to shut up about all this and step back, and this is a big step towards that," she added. "I will watch this season as a proud fan."

Lindsay will be discussing the casting news more in depth on Tuesday on a new episode of her Higher Learning podcast.

As ET previously reported, Crawley's journey will "still be a part of" this season of the show. ET learned that the 39-year-old fell for one of her men, which is why her time with the show came to an end.

A source says, as fans have seen in recent seasons, "anything can happen" on a Bachelor franchise show. The source says Crawley left on good terms with producers, but how exactly the season will play out in its entirety is unclear, as filming is still underway. 

For more on the latest Bachelorette developments, check out the video below.

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