Emmanuel Acho to Host The Bachelor: After the Final Rose Special After Chris Harrison Steps Away

Emmanuel Acho has been tapped to host The Bachelor: After the Final Rose special.

Two weeks after longtime Bachelor franchise host Chris Harrison announced that he would be "stepping aside for a period of time," ABC announced that Acho, 30, will be stepping in to discuss the outcome of The Bachelor season 25 starring Matt James, the franchise's first Black lead.

Acho will sit down with James to talk about the reality star's "season, his final decision and where he is now, as well as cover the current events about the franchise," according to a press release issued on Saturday. "Acho will also speak with the final three women, Bri [Springs], Michelle [Young] and Rachael [Kirkconnell] during the one-hour special."

In a statement about the news of his casting, Acho said, "It's both an honor and privilege to be hosting After the Final Rose. This is an incredibly pivotal episode on one of the most storied shows in television history."

Acho is a former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker turned sports analyst and the New York Times bestselling author of Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, named after his successful YouTube series of the same name. After growing up in a predominantly white neighborhood and later embracing his Black culture in college and the NFL, Acho said he felt he could serve as "a bridge" between the Black and white communities. On the heels of George Floyd's killing in May 2020, Acho began conducting interviews on race issues in America, with millions of viewers watching each week.

The controversy surrounding The Bachelor this season began when Kirkconnell was called out for old social media posts which saw her dressed in Native American attire as a costume and attending an antebellum plantation-themed ball. She has since apologized.

Earlier this month, Harrison addressed the situation during an Extra interview with Rachel Lindsay — who became the first Black Bachelorette in 2017 — saying that people should have "a little grace, a little understanding, a little compassion" for Kirkconnell.

After his comments prompted a backlash among fans — even resulting in a petition calling for him to be removed from the franchise — Harrison released a statement the next day, apologizing for "wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism."

"I will always own a mistake when I make one, so I am here to extend a sincere apology. I have this incredible platform to speak about love, and yesterday I took a stance on topics which I should have been better informed," he wrote in his first apology. "What I now realize I have done is cause harm by wrongly speaking in a manner that perpetuates racism, and for that I am so deeply sorry."

In his follow-up apology, in which he said he "will be stepping aside for a period of time" and not appear in the After the Final Rose special, Harrison said, "The historic season of The Bachelor should not be marred or overshadowed by my mistakes or diminished by my actions."

Just days before Acho was announced as the new After the Final Rose host, Lindsay, 35, told PEOPLE that she would choose Acho as Harrison's replacement.

"For AFTR, Bryan and I both talked about this — we think Emmanuel Acho would be fantastic," the former Bachelorette said of the former NFL linebacker and Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man host.

"[He's] very outspoken about racial injustice, for social justice, and has pretty much been the person who said, 'I can have these uncomfortable conversations, and people trust it.' Who better to lead it? [He's] someone who's not involved with the franchise, no ties, no bias — I think it'd be great," Lindsay said.

Lindsay's husband Abasolo added, "I echo those sentiments. I think Emmanuel Acho would be the perfect person to have those uncomfortable conversations with the contestants, with Matt at the end of the day, and I think it would really be a positive step forward."

The Bachelor: After the Final Rose will air on Monday, March 15 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC, immediately following the season finale of The Bachelor.

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