Whenever a new season of Bachelor is announced, whether it’s The Bachelorette or Paradise, one common discussion is always had: the lack of diversity. We clearly saw it when three White men, who had never appeared in the franchise before, entered Paradise. And we saw it again after Channel 10 announced Elly Miles and her sister, Becky, as the next Bachelorettes.
Since then, there have been vehement cries from the public and media, us included, to cast more people of colour and First Nations people in the franchise.
But the solution to The Bachelor‘s ongoing diversity issue isn’t as simple as just ‘cast more people from non-White backgrounds’.
Niranga Amarasinghe, who appeared in Angie Kent‘s season of The Bachelorette and this season of Bachelor in Paradise, said he understands where people are coming from on the diversity front.
“The sad truth is, I’m one of the few people of colour that got on the show and my parents didn’t care. They were really supportive of it,” Niranga told PEDESTRIAN.TV.
Traditional views in some cultures don’t allow for such displays of affection and, well, horniness in public, let alone national television. Cultural values and beliefs, especially parental approval, can be very real barriers for people of colour who want to apply for dating shows like Bachie.
And then there’s the application process.
Unless you’ve made a name for yourself on social media, the average person has to apply for the show themselves. There are all these steps you need to complete first before you even make it to the filming stage.
“And then you need to communicate with your family and friends and make sure they’re happy with you [being] on the show.
“A lot of the time, they’re not happy,” Niranga said.
“So the quantity [for casting] isn’t there for people of colour in Australia.”
But, this doesn’t mean that people of colour like Niranga, whose parents are more than happy for their son to appear on Bachie, have to miss out or feel like they shouldn’t apply because they don’t see themselves on the show.
“They could ask people of colour to apply for sure, that could be next year’s thing,” Niranga said, “so someone could see that and think, ‘Oh, maybe I do have a chance instead of thinking, ‘Oh, I’m never going to get on this show.’
“They could definitely do that and they would get so much respect for it. Australia’s screaming out for it,” Niranga said.
The aircraft engineer said he doesn’t hold a grudge against the show’s producers for his lack of airtime on Paradise. It is what it is when you’re competing against personalities like Ciarran Stott and Timm Hanly.
He would also encourage all people of colour to apply for Bachie as well, even after his incident.
In an Instagram story on Thursday, Niranga said a cast member told other people that they wouldn’t introduce him to their parents because of where he’s from.
“There were a lot of narky comments towards me and all the other cast members,” Niranga said. “That’s just life, you know? Everyone has an opinion of everyone and sometimes they make rude comments, that’s just life.
“But when it gets to a point where it is quite racist – and hey, I can take a lot of racist things, I’ve grown up with it, and my mates and I play around with it and it can be a bit of a joke – but when it’s something you actually mean and is said in a malicious way, that’s not okay.”
Niranga and his family moved to Australia from Sri Lanka when he was three.
He said the contestants were sitting around a table when the comments were said.
“The whole place went quiet, you could hear a pin drop.
“[They] just flat out said, ‘Yeah, I probably wouldn’t [take him back to the parents because of where he’s from].”
In a statement to PTV, Network 10 didn’t comment on the incident, but said all eligible contestants for any of their 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,” a spokesperson said.
Despite the comments, Niranga wouldn’t let it discourage other people of colour from applying for the show.
“I don’t look at my experience and think it’s going to happen to them,” he said.
“You are who you are, as long as you respect others then you’re not going to get a bad edit. You just can’t,” Niranga said. “So anyone should feel like they can apply.”
The Bachelor in Paradise continues Sunday, 7.30pm on Channel 10.Image: Network 10