“That can be really difficult. I’m a half-Asian woman. And for my season, there were two people of Asian descent — myself and another girl. And the other girl went home night one. So, I was like, ‘Oh, looking around, I am the Asian woman for the season, I will be representing that card,’” the 28-year-old former NBA star said on Us Weekly’s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast. “It’s kind of sad. And it puts a lot more pressure on me to not have anything go wrong. And I think because of that, maybe in some ways, I could have been more guarded because I just wanted to represent that role well because I [had] the pressure of the entire race on my shoulders. Whether that was true or not, that’s kind of what I put on myself.”
Sydney noted that the franchise has “done better with casting” in recent seasons, but there are still “discrepancies” when it comes to people of color getting airtime.
“It’s very skewed and that’s really sad to see. I will say from [a] behind the camera perspective, [it’s] definitely better [now]. The production team definitely needed more diversity too and I think they’re starting to do that,” she said. “I just feel like we still have a long way to go in a lot of ways and I think this franchise is huge and they can really make some good changes from it. But we still have a lot of steps.”
Sydney explained: “You want to be able to relate to the people that you’re working with and all those things. And even for, like, a young girl or boy watching the show, they can see, ‘Oh, that person looks like me and they’re falling in love. And that means I can have that too.’ If you’re not seeing that then there’s that discrepancy and it’s really difficult when you think of it in that regard. There’s always more that can be done.”
While viewers embraced Matt James as the first Black Bachelor earlier this year, his season was overshadowed by racism allegations made against frontrunner (and eventual winner) Rachael Kirkconnell. Chris Harrison, who isn’t hosting the upcoming 17th season of The Bachelorette, also made headlines for his defense of Rachael, 24, who split from Matt, 29, post-finale. (The longtime host and contestant both apologized.)
“From knowing Chris and getting to know him through the process, I really liked him. And I still really like him. It was just was very disappointing to see,” Sydney told Us. “It’s so clear that there was this disconnect and some things that needed to change. And I think some things that have been going on for a long period of time that needed to shift, and I still think that there still needs to be more shifts because I think this past season was kind of like a band-aid put over a bigger issue. And now we need to still continue pushing the envelope.”
Sydney added that she believes the “conversation around Chris and what’s going to happen with him is not over” despite the network calling in Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe to host season 17 of The Bachelorette.
“I’m really curious to see what’s going to happen with the franchise and I’ve seen a lot on social media, like, very mixed reviews on it,” the Bachelor in Paradise alum said. “It’s gonna come a lot from how the fans react and how the show is gonna react to that. I just would say, like, overall, the conversation in itself was disappointing.”