America was first introduced to Rachel Lindsay in 2017, when she was a contestant on "The Bachelor." Later that same year, she would make history on "The Bachelorette" as the franchise's first Black lead.
Five years later, Lindsay is opening up about her time on reality TV -- and so much more -- in her new book, "Miss Me With That," on shelves now.
"Miss Me With That" is described as "a candid, witty, and inspiring collection of essays from The Bachelor's first Black Bachelorette, exploring everything from relationships and love to politics and race."
Lindsay told "Good Morning America" that her motivation for writing the book was because "a lot of people think my life started the day I walked out of that limousine" and "so much of my story has been told for me."
"When you decide to be on reality TV, you don't get to control that narrative," she explained. "And then a lot of times people have seen me speak out about being a champion for change and for diversity and for inclusivity, but I wanted people to know who I was before I came on the show."
In an exclusive excerpt below, provided exclusively to "Good Morning America," Lindsay reflects on her first audition for "The Bachelor," providing fans with an inside look at how one decision changed her life forever.
"Don't let what he wants eclipse what you need. He's very dreamy, but he's not the sun. You are." – Shonda Rhimes
Two younger associates at my law firm came into my office once after work hours. In a serious manner, they closed the door behind them, which is why what they said took me off guard. "You know who would be great for The Bachelor?" asked Maryssa.
"You," said Lauren.
Although I had never watched the show, I didn't have to ask what they meant when they suggested I'd be great for it even if my colleagues themselves were not consciously aware. After decades of being the only Black person in white spaces, I instinctively knew. If this overwhelmingly white dating show ever cast a Black contestant, they would choose someone like me. Well-spoken. A practicing attorney who attended private schools her entire life. Daughter of a federal judge.
Even as I laughed at the idea, I had this strong urge pushing me in a direction I had never imagined on my own. I usually make a right here, but if I don't go left today, I'm going to regret it. When Maryssa and Lauren suggested I audition for the show, something was telling me to go for it. Why not? It's difficult to describe that gut feeling that told me I should act on their suggestion, and I have only had it a handful of times. It had happened with the decision to adopt Copper, a choice that since had blessed me every day. Now this.
The Bachelor auditions came to Dallas in June 2016 and my coworkers and I planned to make a day of it. Go have lunch, drum up some liquid courage, and then stroll over to the ABC affiliate station next to the American Airlines Center, where the Dallas Mavericks and Stars play, and across from the W Hotel, where I had spent many a night.
At the last moment, however, I got pulled into a case that required me to put in extra hours that weekend. But when I told my coworker, "I'm not going," that inner voice immediately returned.
You gotta go down there.
This is something you've never experienced before. What's the worst thing that could happen?
An opportunity like this doesn't come along all the time, so just grab it.
It's just an audition. You'll regret it if you don't.
Yet I went to work the morning of the audition. Then my colleague texted me. Rachel, you have to come down here. It's not even that crowded. This was surprising, because Dallas had always been a hotspot for the show. I agreed to meet my coworker and her friend at the station during my lunch break. Since I was working that weekend, I had dressed for a Saturday at the office. Some flowy pants, a man's ribbed undershirt, and flip-flops. I had just had my eyebrows done, and my extensions were cool, but I had to roll into the auditions with a fresh face. No mascara, no pressed powder, nothing.
When I arrived, my coworker and her friend were already there. An assistant handed me thirty pages of paperwork to complete. Scoffing at the stack, I proceeded to give the most sarcastic answers. Why do you want to be on The Bachelor? Because I'm thirty-one years old, and nothing else has worked, so why not?
Both men and women were at the audition, and it was very American Idol.
"This is my third time auditioning," said one guy.
"I drove down from Oklahoma," said this girl. "And when they're in Austin, I'm going there, too."
That got me thinking. Jeez, I just rolled in here like, why not? If the audition didn't work out for me, I wasn't driving three hours on the I-35E for another shot at love. My next stop would be the Internet—i.e., online dating.
"I'm not doing it," my coworker said. After completing mountains of paperwork, she chickened out, but her friend and I moved on to the next step. They snapped a photo of me holding up a card with my name on it, then ushered us toward three lines. I noticed that two were moving very quickly while one remained at a standstill. My coworker's friend and I were placed in separate lines. They placed me behind four other women on the line that was not moving, and I started to panic. The clock was ticking, and I had to get back to work, so I spoke up.
"Hey, this line's not moving," I said. "And I've already been here an hour." I checked out the fast line. That one was packed with girls, each decked out from head to toe. Party outfits complete with their best jewelry and designer bags. They were showing out in their favorites to this audition.
I checked out the girl beside me on the slow line. Just like me she was dressed very casually. I asked her, "Is it me or is this line not moving?"
"Oh, it's moving slow, but you want to stay in this line," she said. "The others are just filming on camera, but this is the line to meet one of the casting producers. Trust me, it's a good thing that you got chosen to be on this line."
"Wow." It never occurred to me that they would be selecting people based on their appearance or how they carried themselves. And all before they ever stepped in front of a camera. I looked at all the hopeful ladies dolled up in the other line. So full of excitement and hope. Poor things never knew they did not have a shot. At least, not at this particular audition.
But it was just taking too long. I found a volunteer and explained my predicament. She directed me to another producer. "You actually want to talk to her," said the volunteer. "She's in charge."
I approached the producer and offered her the dissertation they required me to write about my private life. "Hey, I'd like to turn this in."
This must have been a novel thing to say. "Whoa, really?" she said.
"Yeah, I can't do this. I've got to get back to work."
"Wait five minutes. I'll skip you to the front of the line." True to her word, the producer let me cut the line, and I entered the room. Suddenly, I felt on edge. This was just supposed to be a fun experience—I never thought that I would get this opportunity.
I stood before a casting producer. "Tell me about yourself."
I was so frazzled, I started talking a mile a minute. "MynameisRachelI'mfromDallasbornandraisedIgraduated..." I only spoke for five minutes yet I was rambling so fast I stopped myself. "I'm sorry," I said. "What was the question?"
The casting producer laughed. "I'm sending you to L.A.," she said. "You're going to the next step. Do you have a purse?"
"No, I don't." When you make it to this point in the process, they give you a folder filled with paperwork, but they don't want you to walk out with it in hand. This was so other applicants would not know who had made the cut and to preserve the mystery of the casting.
"I'll email it to you."
I walked out and headed back to the law firm thinking the entire way, Wow, I made it to the next step. When the show sends you to Los Angeles to meet the producers, they have whittled the potential contestants down to between fifty and sixty women. With each season's cast numbering about thirty contestants, I had a fifty-fifty chance of making it onto the show.
After that first successful audition, I began to tell my friends whose honest opinions I truly wanted. Looking back I recognize that I was seeking someone who would tell me not to go through with it. I told my childhood friends Erin and Angela because they watched the show, and of course they encouraged me to do it. "Oh my God, you have to!" Same with Premere, Nika, Andrea, and Mark. I even told my sisters. Everyone was excited for me and cheered me on.
I waited until the last minute, however, to tell my parents I had tried out for The Bachelor. I just could not imagine getting on a plane from Dallas to Los Angeles for any reason, never mind an audition, without letting them know. Once again, I needed their approval and blessing. But I only told my parents because the opportunity had become real, and I was on the verge of accepting it. If I had to tell my employer, I had to tell my parents.
"Miss Me With That" is available now.
Excerpted from MISS ME WITH THAT by Rachel Lindsay with Sofia Quintero. Copyright © 2022 by Rachel L. Lindsay. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.