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Sorry 'Bachelorette Canada,' Diversity 'Exploded' A Long Time Ago

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Canada got a taste of its first bachelorette on Thursday.

Not a surprise to anyone, Corus' choice for a leading lady was a beautiful white, blond woman named Jasmine Lorimer residing in Pemberton, B.C. -- the typical casting choice of the U.S. version of the show as well.

And while I wasn't expecting an Asian, black or any other person of colour to represent this country as a bachelorette for the very first time (maybe more diversity among the contestants?), it was a quote by the company that really just irked me.

"She is delightful and beautiful, although I wouldn't call her diverse," Barb Williams, executive vice-president and chief operating officer of Corus told Toronto Star reporter Tony Wong after he questioned if the network missed the mark on diversity.

"It's entirely a possibility. We are watching the diversity issue just about explode. We should have been much more conscious and purposeful about this years ago. But we are finally coming to our senses about this and who our viewing population really is," she continued. "We should make sure they are reflected in every way, so certainly none of that stuff is off the table."

Explode? It's a little too late for that.

I've been up to something... 🌹😬 @w_network @bacheloretteca #bacheloretteCA

A photo posted by Jasmine Lorimer (@jazlor1) on

For starters, I am not entirely sure what "watching the diversity issue just about explode" means exactly, but it's clear the show and franchise have a diversity problem. No person of colour has ever been cast as the bachelorette or bachelor in 32 seasons of the franchise's history, The Wrap notes. Minorities often don't even make up the supporting cast, and when Canada introduced the first bachelor in 2012, many of us were (or at least I was) holding our tongues for someone of colour (both Canadian bachelors have been white men).

And it's great that Corus, one of the biggest specialty broadcasters in the country is watching "the diversity issue," but here's a heads up, it exploded a while ago.

From the ongoing protests throughout the year for #OscarsSoWhite; to countless studies on how diversity continues to be an issue for Hollywood productions; to even more recently, how Asian communities are creating their own leading roles to make up for the industry's white-washing, people have been talking for a long time.

What are the chances that a show like "The Bachelorette," one of the biggest shows on television, would cast a person who looks like me?

People of colour have always been here. We're here watching reality shows, we're here buying tickets to every big blockbuster and we're here bingeing every show on Netflix as well. We've "exploded" a long time ago and we're just used to not watching ourselves reflected on the big and mini screens.

I don't work in television production, but there's always the argument that "people of colour don't come out to casting calls." "I am sure this is true, but I think this has a lot to do with the effort to bring diversity to these shows as well. When people of colour don't see themselves in leading roles, and are reduced to dry stereotypes, it is not surprising to see interest from these communities waning.

And witnessing the franchise's history -- attractive white blond and brunette men and women as the standard -- people of colour may not want to apply. What are the chances that a show like "The Bachelorette," one of the biggest shows on television, would cast a person who looks like me?

It's a cycle that happens in every industry. The effort to cast diverse people isn't there and in return, diverse people are not interested in being on these shows or watching it.

Last night when photos of hairstylist/model Lorimer circulated on my social media feeds, the only conversation I had with my friends (yes, a majority of colour), is how kickass it would've been for a Canadian production to finally break the mould and lead with a person of colour. How headlines across North America would applaud us, how new audiences would watch the show and how refreshing it would be to see a non-typical bachelorette for the first time.

Corus as a whole, a company that takes pride in shows I love to watch like the "Love It Or List It," series or "Property Brothers," could have stepped up as a leader in the industry right before the launch of a new series.

As Williams said to the Star, the company should have been "more conscious and purposeful" about this years ago. Even if they are finally coming to their senses of who their population really is, it's unfortunate we have another franchise of this show to fall under the same problem, right here in Canada of all places.

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