After previous criticism for a lack of diverse casting, the latest season of ‘The Bachelorette Australia’ will feature contestants from a range of cultural backgrounds.
At least seven of the 20 men vying for sisters Elly and Becky Miles’ hearts come from culturally or linguistically diverse backgrounds, which former ‘Bachelorette’ star Niranga Amarasinghe said is an “improvement” for the dating show franchise which also produces ‘The Bachelor’ and ‘Bachelor In Paradise’.
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“I hope we are seeing this because of the recent backlash and I hope the franchise continues to go down this route,” Niranga told HuffPost Australia.
“Wouldn’t it be great to see a POC as the Bachelor and Bachelorette next year?”
The 2020 contestants include Mr Polynesia 2017 winner Shannon Karaka, dancer Ab Sow who was born in Sierra Leone, Mr Italiaa 2019 Rudy El Kholti whose father is Moroccan and mother Italian, personal trainer Sajed Bakhsh who was born in Afghanistan, Adrian Baena whose father is Filipino and Sam Vescio whose parents were born in Italy.
Earlier this year Carlos Fang (aka Carlos Jay F), who appeared on Georgia Love’s ‘Bachelorette’ season in 2016, said he believed the franchise has often played up to racial “stereotypes” and “tokenism” when casting ethnically diverse contestants.
“I knew going on a show like The Bachelorette there would always be a ‘token’ guy,” the Chinese Australian reality star told HuffPost Australia at the time.
“It’s your advantage because you know there’s always one person cast to represent that mix but it’s likely to be a disadvantage for the final outcome of the show. Rarely is there a person of colour standing there at the end of the season.”
However Niranga said he’s more optimistic about this year’s cast.
“I honestly believe these guys with diverse backgrounds have an equal chance of winning,” he said.
“From what I have heard from close friends who know the two girls very well, they are both very open to anyone, no matter what race.”
Meanwhile Niranga, who moved to Australia from Sri Lanka when he was three, recently spoke about being “the only male POC” on ‘Bachelor in Paradise’ this year.
“I had an amazing experience. Everyone’s so respectful,” he said in an Instagram Q&A, encouraging other culturally diverse people to apply for the show.
“But if you’re sitting on the fence and you’re a person of colour and not knowing whether you should do it or not, I highly recommend you do it because you’re going to have a lot of support behind you.”
He was one of three people of colour on the show this year alongside Mary Viturino from Brazil and First Nations contestant Renee Barrett.
In a statement to HuffPost Australia, a Network 10 spokesperson said the TV channel is committed to diversity.
“Eligible contestants on all Network 10 shows are considered regardless of race or background. Network 10 takes its commitment to diversity seriously and we cast as broadly as possible across our entire slate,” read the statement.
This year’s season of ‘The Bachelorette’ will feature two women looking for love.
Former ‘Bachelor’ contestant Elly Miles and her older sister, Becky, will share the journey of handing out roses to strangers in the hope of finding romance.
The rumour mill has already gone into overdrive before the show’s started with fans speculating who will win the final roses.
According to the So Dramatic! podcast, Elly is already following contestant Joe Woodbury on Instagram.
Promos have also shown the pair saying they’ve met before filming, but Elly has kept tight-lipped on whether Joe is the one standing at the end.
‘The Bachelorette Australia’ airs on Wednesday and Thursday at 7:30pm on Channel 10.