America Is Not Ready for a Black Bachelor

America Is Not Ready for a Black Bachelor

Written by Jazmine A. Ortiz

Published October 9, 2017

Eric Bigger is perfect, but that doesn’t matter.

Tall, dark and handsome. Single ladies, if you’re looking for a guy that fits this dreamy combo, then look no further because he’s been right in front of you all along — on your TV screen, that is. Eric Bigger, second runner-up of season 13 on The Bachelorette, may not have been chosen to be America’s next bachelor (Arie who?), but he’s still one of the most eligible guys we know. I speak from experience, since I recently got some one-on-one time with the LA-based fitness trainer and motivational speaker. Fans of his around the country can collectively agree he was the “one that got away,” from Rachel Lindsay, that is.

Lindsay stunned America by nailing the title of America’s first Black Bachelorette and then epicly failing at scoring the love of her life, first by breaking up with crowd favorite Peter Kraus (also a trainer… we’re sensing a pattern) and then by dumping Bigger and choosing a reality TV show veteran who promised her a proposal. She and her new beau are currently flaunting their love on the press circuit, hitting up everything from the morning shows to New York Fashion week. Believe me, we were just as shocked when Rach sent him packing on that three-hour marathon of a final episode and even more shocked when ABC finally revealed he wouldn’t be the one giving the roses away for season 22 of the blockbuster franchise. But then again… maybe we shouldn’t be. 

Coming off the high of ABC crowning its first-ever Black Bachelorette, we were 100 percent rooting for #BlackLove all the way (hello, we’re Black Entertainment Television), so f*ck yeah, we ride with Issa Rae on that bias. The fact is healthy Black couples don’t get enough airtime on mainstream TV. But I’d also be lying to you if I said his melanin was the only reason he was our pick and a fan fav. Straight out the gate he won audiences over with his optimistic attitude, warm smile, and cater-to-you approach when it came to Rachel, and I mean he really sent us swooning when he opened up during hometowns about his less-than-perfect upbringing on the mean streets of Baltimore. We were sold. 

"I’m a king and I need a queen."

So when I meet Eric

for the first time in person on a drab day in August, I already feel oddly familiar with him. He bounds into the room like an overgrown puppy with his entourage, including his Auntie, who stole the show during Rachel’s visit with his family a few weeks before. Hugging the entire crew before finally settling into the grooming chair to begin prep for his photos, it was clear to me that, actually, Eric Bigger seems to be doing just fine. “How’s your heart?” was my first question. The man I watched week after week pour his soul out to the woman he hoped would be his future bride, for all the world to see, was now sitting directly in front of me getting a shape-up on set. The finale of the historical Bachelorette had just aired about a week prior to his shoot with us and I think, naturally that’s what you’d ask anyone after a breakup.

“My heart is full,” he says. “It was broken, but I have love in my heart now. I feel great, I feel fulfilled. I was lacking love in my spirit prior [to The Bachelorette]. And I’m doing the things I always wanted to do — traveling the United States for speaking engagements, booking commercials and endorsements, and just a lot coming in that I have to choose from. Life is just evolving for me in a great way, so I’m happy.” Still, while he may be “fulfilled” at the moment, don’t get it twisted ladies, love is still very much on the agenda. “Love is the ultimate goal and dream of mine I need to capture to fulfill me overall. You can have all the material possessions, but I feel like if you don’t have that rich emotional connection, which is love, I feel like you can be incomplete. So I’m definitely looking for that. I need my woman; I’m a king and I need a queen.”

Eric Bigger photographed for BET Style in New York on Aug. 29, 2017. (Photo: Tawni Bannister/BET)

Sounds like an over-rehearsed

Miss USA answer, no? It’s true, Eric puts it on thick, but he’s well spoken, confident and, most important, he is camera ready. So while it’s a lot IRL, it just works as soon as someone says, “Rolling!” Chatting with him in the flesh I could tell he was one those unicorns that women go out on countless dates looking for — the good guy, with all the former-bad boy fixings mixed in. Eric is 29, so while he swears up and down that he fell in love for the very first-time (with Rachel), right before our eyes, I might add — he’s also riding the wave that comes with being a contestant on the reality TV classic. And that means *ahem* getting to know some of his fans. Sure, he wants to get married, but as he’d put it, right now "it's miracle season" and he intends to soak all his blessings. The fact that he is even open to finding love again is a huge step in the right direction to finding Mrs. Bigger.

It's miracle season.
Eric Bigger

Now, for the second thing

we all wanted know. “Have you spoken to Rachel since the show wrapped?” He hesitates slightly in that grueling way that one would when asked about an ex by a complete stranger before answering, “No, I’ve had no contact with her at all. I’ve spoken to Bryan [Abasolo] though. I told him congrats. I reached out a few days ago, you know that’s my guy, man, it’s all love — from me to her and from him to me. They both know me personally. He’s great, but no I haven’t spoken to her. It would be weird, like, ‘What up, Rach?’ But it’s cool, there’s no resistance at all.” So there you have it, folks. Apparently, there was somewhat of a bromance between the finalists happening off-camera, and it doesn’t end with Bryan either.

The Bachelor Nation franchise is enormously popular, and if you’re unfamiliar with the way the show works, it is a pretty uniquely constructed fantasy world in which one girl (or guy) dates 20 or so potential suitors all at the same damn time. They are regularly whisked off to exotic locations at the drop of a dime, so when you sign up for the show, you know that your passport will get a serious workout. You also know that that fantasy world will become your real world. The catch is that the contestants are actually cut off from their former lives and from the current world. There’s no phone usage or internet. There’s a heavy amount of booze. Essentially, they all just have to hang out and talk. It’s sort of like camp… with alcohol and sex, but not really. This is why relationships not only form between bachelor and bachelorettes but bachelors and bachelors. One look at Eric’s Instagram and you’ll spot him getting chummy with Deanie Baby, a.k.a. Dean Unglert, Matt Munson, a.k.a. the guy who showed up in a penguin suit, and a few more of the guys. After the show wraps, they are often invited to do press tours together. Some lucky or unlucky ones are selected to be cast members on Bachelor in Paradise. An even smaller selection is chosen to be the next bachelor. I assumed that this could be Eric’s path when I didn’t see him pop up in promos for the salacious Bachelor in Paradise. He was definitely on a short list of potentials to be the one doling out roses.

So after meeting him 

and soaking up all that charm in person, I was astonished to find out some guy named Arie would be the one looking for love on America’s small screens. Eric had been thwarted again. Eric tells me, diplomatically, “Maybe [America’s] just not ready yet. It’d be different, because I’m just a different human being, you know?” At this point Arie-what's-his-name hasn’t been named the next Bachelor, so when Eric says this, he and his team are just waiting on that call from show execs. “You know, I’d be the first African-American, so I think it’ll bring in a lot of viewers. A lot of people would watch because they’d be curious of this history, for one. But see, I’m the type of person who likes responsibility. I want it. I want to put the world on my back and say let’s go get it. So I think I’d love it. I’d enjoy it. It’d be different, but it’d be fun. And it’ll give people a different perspective on love and life, because the show changed me, it gave me a perspective.” Rachel’s ratings teetered up and down the entire season, and although the three-hour finale brought in 7.5 million total viewers, it was still down roughly 1M from last year’s Bachelorette finale, which did 8.6M. So despite the initial hype around “America’s First Black Bachelorette,” America did not show up for the Black girl. You can't help but want to believe in Eric’s optimism, though.

Chris Harrison, wherever you are, you lost a good one. Rachel, you already know that. That being said, if you’re reading this and totally convinced that Eric is indeed the guy for you, you probably still have a chance. But really — even Eric admits there are a lot of characteristics that his famous ex possessed that serve as the blueprint for his one-day wifey. “I think Rachel had a lot of the qualities I want in a woman — strong, independent, driven, loving, fun. For me, I just think I need someone who understands me as a person, overall. Someone who’s spiritual, intact with themselves, a person who can have fun, who’s funny, who’s outgoing at some point and someone who can still be serious and I have crucial conversations with. We can grow and build, and, you know, evolve together and also someone who gives me my space, because I don’t want a person to be all over me because I’m not going to be all over you all the time. Someone who allows me to have freedom and just support me no matter what, unconditionally. All those things.” That’s quite a hefty list, but remember — he’s a self-proclaimed unicorn. Eric’s life outside of The Bachelorette is about being healthy in the physical, mental and spiritual sense. He describes himself as a “cool nerd,” since he has a great appreciation for philosophical books and binge-watches documentaries in his downtime — but also, like, hello that body. “I think everyone you know should get a bible and read proverbs, there’s a lot of wisdom in proverbs,” he advises. Eric also studies astrology. And in case you were wondering, he’s a Pisces.

Other Important Things You Should Know If You’re Trying to Get Chosen by Eric Bigger:

  • Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill is one of his favorite books.
  • You can’t find him on any dating apps.
  • He’s a green juice drinker. (He actually ordered one during the shoot.)
  • He doesn’t watch much TV but enjoys  documentaries like 13th.
  • Anything seafood is his first choice when it comes to food.
  • His taste in music ranges from Jay-Z to Sam Smith.
  • One of the most important women in his life is his aunt Vernā Myers. He actually brought her to set with him, and she hosted his hometown.

Eric might be leading a pretty charmed life now, but don't forget, he knows all about struggle. Even with a long list of family and friends who’ve gotten locked up at some point or another, including his dad, he didn’t let his environment define him. “What’s the why?” is how he approaches life instead. And when it comes to not winning, he follows that rhetorical question with, “I learned about where I come from, how strong I am, the challenges I embrace and that put me further in life as of today, and why I was running from love. I didn’t understand it. That’s why. Now that I understand it, I can embrace it when it shows up again. It’s bigger than falling in love and being on a show.” How’s that for getting the bigger picture?