Niranga Amarasinghe knows a thing or two about being a person of colour on a reality television show. The aircraft engineer, who moved to Australia from Sri Lanka when he was three years old, appeared on Angie’s season of The Bachelorette and the subsequent season of Bachelor in Paradise.
Speaking to Megan Pustetto, host of the So Dramatic! podcast, Amarasinghe, reflected on the limited airtime he was given as a Bachelorette contestant and highlighted the need for casting directors to actively attempt to recruit a more diverse range of people to appear in reality franchises.
The 29-year-old acknowledged that elsewhere, diversity has started to be recognized more within Bachelor Nation (the latest US Bachelorette is a Black woman and the forthcoming Bachelor is a Black man) but pondered if Australia was ready for a similar shift.
“Fans of the franchise have been crying out for more representation for people of colour,” Pustetto said. “And it seems like they just do the bare minimum to meet the diversity quota…what more do you think could be done to improve diversity on reality tv in Australia? Do you think that they do need a diversity makeover”
“I think maybe they need to advertise it more,” Amarasinghe replied. “Make it clear that they are looking for a more diverse cast. I don’t know if they do advertise it that way, if they were really passionate about it they would advertise it like that and really go after those people which I don’t think they do.”
Amarasinghe went on to say that he believes the networks don’t seem to go out of their way to search for a diverse cast of people, instead falling back on the typical “fun-loving Instagram types” but also acknowledged that people of colour may not be applying for the shows as much due to cultural differences and restrictions.
Ultimately, Amarasinghe suggested that diversity on Australian television needs the type of backing other causes have seen in order to really take off.
“I think it’s a lot of advertising really, like, a lot of people getting behind it. You see, with gay marriage and stuff, that was huge social media advertising and everyone was behind it, and I just don’t think diversity has the backing yet,” he said.
Responding to the rumours that Renee Barrett could be the next Bachelorette and first ever Indigenous lead, Amarasinghe said “I would 100% back Renee to be on it and think she would do an excellent job, she’s quite a headstrong person so I think she would keep her head above the water and smash it.”
And, for those fans who were wondering if Amarasinghe had finally found himself lucky in love after famously big “friendzoned” on the franchise….the 29-year-old revealed while he briefly dated Charley Bond from Locky’s season of The Bachelor, he hasn’t found the right one yet and is still looking. Ladies, get in line.