Rachael Kirkconnell first met Matt James on season 25 of The Bachelor, and now, nearly two years later, she’s beginning to talk openly about their encounter and the drama that dogged their relationship.
The Georgia native came under criticism over the resurfaced photos in an antebellum-style attire at a fraternity trip while the ABC series’ 2021 season was airing. Prior to Kirkconnell addressing the pictures, the show’s former host Chris Harrison defended the competitor during an interview with alum Rachel Lindsay by urging the audience to show “grace” for the winner of the season.
Prior to the After the Final Rose special that March, James ended his relationship with Kirkconnell as a result of the circumstance. Later that year, the pair made amends, but the network fired Harrison, who was replaced by alum Jesse Palmer.
On February 11, 2021, Kirkconnell made her first public statement, writing on Instagram that her actions were “not acceptable” and that her “ignorance was racist.” In an open discussion with Bri Springs, a fellow season 25 star who placed second on James’ season, in October 2022, Kirkconnell admitted that her initial apology “backfired.”
“I was pressured by the show and by producers to create a written message and not talk to my followers, like, with my face and everything. “You could just, like, look in the corner, and people will gaze too far into it,” they said. Writing a written statement is simpler, she claimed on the “Ya, But Who Cares” podcast. “I think that backfired a little bit. Either that or they thought, “Wow, she can’t even speak it.”
Wow, this was actually extremely nicely written, like, props to whoever wrote this for her, the other half said afterward. Nobody really believed it was coming from me.
After James broke their relationship, Kirkconnell recalls acting “rogue” and creating a second, lengthy apology video because she had nothing to lose. When her supporters began to defend Lindsay and James instead of concentrating on her errors, she released a third statement.
You guys are disappointed in the wrong individuals, I was like. I wasn’t the victim,” she said, adding that she still doesn’t know why Lindsay was the target of the “coming” crowd. She spoke with him; that’s all.
She said, “I still get to this day, like, ‘I can’t believe you cost the host his job.'” She then mentioned Harrison. I continue to hear those remarks.
Kirkconnell also provided some insight on the occasion where the now-famous photograph was taken, which she attended.
I’m speaking it for the first time ever. I did say this on AFR, but they obviously chose not to air it. There was no celebration. I skipped the celebration or whatever it was that everyone was trying to express. No parade took place. I’ve witnessed absurd things. People are claiming that there were parades, celebrations, and reenactments, she claimed. And I suppose it was difficult to read that and respond, “OK, no, that’s not what it was. I could have learned more about that fraternity’s history, I’ll own that.
Additionally, I might have realised why we were even wearing those outfits and such such things. Since the entire event involved us girls renting these outfits merely to go take pictures in them,
James wrote a book on his time as the first Black Bachelor after the couple got back together in the spring of 2021, criticising the show for what they chose to air. In July 2022, Kirkconnell discussed the couple’s relationship with the franchise and said that they support everyone “from afar.”
There are absolutely no bad feelings, James declared. “Everyone here wants a Michelle to succeed. At the end of the day, you want people to find their soul mate, so it’s a blessing if they do it through the show. I’m very grateful that Rachael’s situation has turned out the way it has, and I hope that everyone who auditions for the show can find their Rachael, their special someone.
Continue reading for additional remarks made by Kirkconnell about her time on the program:
Throughout the Fantasy Suite Dates, Rachael “Spiraled”
In an interview with Springs, she compared herself to Susie Evans from Clayton Echard’s season and said, “I absolutely spiralled throughout fantasy suites. I believe they kept me back on purpose to drive me insane, and they succeeded admirably. I lost my mind. Running on three hours of sleep, sequestered in a room, I was, like, so not OK. There is no one left but you and your thoughts.
When on dates at the Fantasy Suite, Rachael “Spiraled”
She compared herself to Susie Evans from Clayton Echard’s season, saying, “I absolutely spiralled during fantasy suites.” “I think they held me last on purpose to, like, drive me nuts, and they did a tremendous job,” the speaker said. I became insane. I had been sleeping for about three hours while being trapped in a room, so I was really not OK. You are left alone with only yourself and your thoughts.
Producers hoped that Matt would choose a woman of colour.
Springs and Kirkconnell both stated that they believed James will wind up dating a Black lady on the programme, making her the first Black Bachelor.
Speaking with Matt about it revealed that, according to Kirkconnell, “they did this probably for all they could to get us to not be together because they didn’t want us to be a together.” Since Matt simply put his foot down and said, “This is what works, this is who I want to be with and sorry, like, go back home and write your storyboard,” it is evident that I have him to thank for the fact that we are even still together at this time.
He did state that “As soon as I knew, I let them know because I understood that they were going to have to make it work,” after all. You guys, the climax is funny. We were closing up filming when it was released. They were incredibly disappointed.