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16/09/2020 4:27 PM AEST | Updated 18/09/2020 2:11 PM AEST

'Is It Just White Dudes?' Casting Of The Bachelor Australia 2021 Sparks Race Debate

As producers search for their star, Bachelor In Paradise's Niranga said this is an opportunity for culturally diverse Aussies to audition.

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As the current season of ‘The Bachelor Australia’ nears its end, producers are already on the hunt for next year’s main star. 

On Wednesday Warner Bros casting did a callout on Instagram, sharing a photo of some previous ‘The Bachelor’ stars and the caption: “CURRENTLY CASTING FOR THE BACHELOR 2021 🌹 Link to apply in bio ~ DM us to dob in your hottest, single, male friend’s IG handle!”

‘Bachelor In Paradise’ and ‘The Bachelorette 2019’ contestant Niranga Amarasinghe said this is an opportunity for more cultural representation on the dating show and encouraged people from different communities to apply. 

“Let’s embrace multiculturalism on prime-time TV,” Niranga told HuffPost Australia on Wednesday.

Instaram/warnerbroscastingau
Casting for 'The Bachelor Australia' 2021 season has begun
Instagram/warnerbroscastingau
Casting for 'The Bachelor Australia' 2021 season has begun

“You have nothing to lose unless you do act like an idiot but if you’re a good person and true to yourself you have nothing to worry about. Don’t be scared of edits.”

Some Instagram users have also commented on the Warner Bros post, with one writing, “Is it just white dudes or...?” and another penning, “We need diversity please”.

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. 

‘The Bachelor Australia’ timeline: 

2013: Tim Robards

2014: Blake Garvey

2015: Sam Wood

2016: Richie Strahan

2017: Matthew Johnson aka Matty J 

2018: Nick Cummins aka The Honey Badger

2019: Matt Agnew 

2020: Locky Gilbert 

Niranga, who moved to Australia from Sri Lanka when he was three, said he had not been “officially” asked by producers about being next year’s ‘Bachelor’ but “the question has come up occasionally in general chats about other things”. 

However, he has no interest in returning to the franchise. 

“I’ve officially retired from reality TV,” he said. 

Channel 10
'Bachelor In Paradise' contestant Niranga Amarasinghe

In the past Niranga has said there may be fewer POC on reality TV because “from experience, there are less POC auditioning for reality TV”.

In an interview with news.com.au, he cited “very strict cultural backgrounds” as one reason they may not be participating.

“For the ones who do and are successful, there is another hurdle an individual has to conquer to actually make it to the filming stage. They have to convince their families they are happy for them to go on reality TV.”

Niranga said traditional views in some cultures “don’t always allow this kind of public display.”

Last year, ‘Love Island’ contestant Tea Fraser, the second Black woman to be on the Australian series, also said that on-screen diversity is difficult to achieve if minorities don’t audition in the first place.

“Some people don’t feel that’s something they want to do because with reality TV, it’s a bit hard to put yourself out there,” she told HuffPost Australia in October, before admitting she was also apprehensive about signing up for the show.

“I saw the applications coming up so early and I put it off and then I finally decided to apply.” 

In June the US version of ‘The Bachelor’ announced its new lead in 2021 would be Black man, Matt James.

The announcement came four days after fans launched a petition calling for ABC to name a Black Bachelor for the upcoming season. It quickly racked up tens of thousands of signatures and endorsements from popular ‘Bachelor’ alums including Rachel Lindsay, Kaitlyn Bristowe and Nick Viall.

“We’re glad ABC has done the right thing and cast a Black lead for the next season of The Bachelor,” the organisers of the Bachelor Diversity campaign said in a statement to HuffPost at the time.

“While we’re thrilled for that first step, we still plan to hold ABC accountable to make sure his representation is handled responsibly. We want to continue seeing greater BIPOC representation within the The Bachelor franchise, both on and off camera — as well as providing the resources and support they need during the show and in its aftermath. There’s plenty more work to do, but this is a start.”

Australia’s first Black male lead on ‘The Bachelor’ was Blake Garvey in Season Two in 2014. Since then, culturally diverse contestants have featured as contestants, but not as the leads.

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