Ben Higgins, who starred on season 20 of “The Bachelor,” is weighing in on the controversy surrounding longtime host Chris Harrison.
Higgins told CNN in a recent interview that he’s been friends with Harrison for years and found himself in a tough spot following Harrison’s controversial comments regarding race during an interview on Extra with former “Bachelorette” star Rachel Lindsay.
“Chris is a friend of mine. He has been a friend of mine for six years now,” Higgins said. “It’s not like we see each other on a show. He’s a huge part of my life. As somebody who sits in a place as a friend of his and also I consider Rachel Lindsey a friend of mine so in the midst of this conversation they were having it’s a really weird place to sit.”
Harrison was being interviewed by Lindsay when he defended a contestant’s antebellum plantation-themed photos from 2018. He has since apologized and also stepped aside as host from the franchise. It’s unclear if he will return.
“What Chris said was not helpful but yet he’s a friend and I want to see him grow and I want to see him be loved because I think that’s what friends should do for each other,” Higgins said.
“But at the same time I’m sitting here saying what is being said is something that needs to be confronted. These are things that are not OK. We have to work towards racial reconciliation, we have to work for racial justice, we have to bring up these topics so that we can become educated.”
Higgins says that the show’s race issues have plagued the series for years. The Bachelor-Bachelorette franchise, which debuted in 2002, did not cast a person of color as its lead until Lindsay, who is Black.
“For years you were hoping to see growth. You’d hope to see progress. You’d hope to see the show continue to get better,’ he said. “This is a massive moment where it feels like there’s a reckoning, it feels like now there’s almost a forced hand and I wish it could have been different. I wish it could have been something the show did years before. … I would hope the show would want to be better, get better for everybody. For the viewers, for themselves for the culture for the contestants. So that we can proud of this maybe again.”
Higgins added, “As a friend I don’t want to see anybody lose their job. But also as somebody from the show I know there might be things that have to be done that again, I don’t have any say in.”
The former reality star has kept busy since his days on the show. He’s currently in the midst of planning his wedding this fall and shedding a light on his advocacy work on human trafficking as an ambassador for the Orphan Myth campaign. He also has a new book out called “Alone in Plain Sight.”
“The book is kind of my journal, a little bit of my story, a lot a bit the stories around me and the people that have influenced me,” he said. “It’s a book for anybody out there that feels alone or disconnected. The book is meant to point people to show us all that we are not alone, that we are in this together, that we all have pain and struggles and fears and doubts and questions and that within those, we can actually find connecting points.”