THE Bachelorette alum Rachel Lindsay said she “won’t subject herself” to ABC’s “toxicity.”
The 35-year-old’s comments come following rumors that she’ll replace Chris Harrison as the host of the show.
Following backlash from fans and the show’s alumni, Chris apologized for his hurtful words and announced he was temporarily stepping away from the reality franchise.
While it’s been speculated that Rachel will take over the hosting duties for the upcoming After The Final Rose special, the former reality star seemed to shut down the rumors she’ll take over the hosting duties.
She exclusively told the PEOPLE: “Honestly, I can’t even go there. Because one, Chris has only said that he’s stepping aside, and that’s all that I know, that he’s not doing the finale.
“It’s hard for me to even think about being the host, because in a lot of ways, Bachelor Nation has changed my life in the best way possible. But at the same time, it’s really toxic. … And I don’t know if I want to subject myself to that.”
Earlier this month, contestant Rachael Kirkconnell sparked outrage when photos resurfaced of her dressed up at a controversial “Old South” bash in 2018.
During an interview with Rachel, Chris asked fans to show “compassion” for Rachael.
He also claimed the racism problems were “okay” in 2018 but “not in 2021,” while adding he’s “not the woke police.”
While talking to PEOPLE, Rachel noted that she didn’t want to feed into the idea that she was after the hosting gig all along.
She said: “I don’t know if I want to play into the whole line of thinking that people think I did this to get Chris Harrison’s job. It’s so wild.
“Yeah, I went to go have an interview with a person to recap last night’s episode and I thought, ‘You know what? Today’s the day I’m going to try to take your job.’
“How would I even think like that? But that’s the kind of stuff that people say about me. So for me, I really don’t know — I don’t know if that’s something that’s for me.”
Rachel added that she wouldn’t be surprised if the show moved forward without a host, stating: “Should Chris decide to say, ‘I don’t want to do this at all,’ or, ‘I’m going to leave, my time is up,’ I could see them not [replacing him].
“I mean, pre-quarantine, he was barely in the show, anyway. I think that they could narration, bring in a past contestant. But for me, I don’t know. And because it’s so 50/50 on how people feel about me, I don’t even really think they would offer it.”
The former Bachelorette also said that she doesn’t “want to be muzzled,” explaining: “That freedom to say how I feel and to demand change and speak out, I couldn’t do that the same way if I was the host.
“But on the flip side, if I was, then I’d be a person in power who could say, ‘Hey, we need to do this.'”
Rachel concluded that the franchise needs “to have somebody in power who is a person of color who gets it, who understands it. Because as we’re seeing time and time again, even with the lead [of color], you’re still not getting it, because we’re seeing things happen that shouldn’t.”