Chris Harrison, the host of the popular dating show “The Bachelor”, stopped by USC to discuss the rise of the franchise, the difference hard work makes in this industry, and answer questions from students.
Harrison’s visit to USC was in such high-demand, the lecture was moved from Professor Mary Murphy’s original class room to Annenberg’s lecture hall and filled within minutes. Every seat was taken and many students had to sit on the floor to hear Harrison speak.
The beginning of the conversation started with Harrison explaining how he got his start. His story begins in Dallas, TX , but it was not until he went to college at Oklahoma City University to play soccer that he discovered his passion for television.
After graduating college , Harrison, was a sportscaster. Later he was offered a job to be a host on the Horse Racing Network in Los Angeles.
Hosting on HRN led him to do other hosting work before getting his current position as the host of “The Bachelor.”
Initially Harrison was unsure if a show like “The Bachelor” would be successful.
“People will say wow it’s lucky you got “The Bachelor”, back then it wasn’t,” Harrison said. "It was just this weird show and concept, that’s never been heard of or done before. It wasn’t anything when I got it.”
Harrison attributes the show’s ability to remain one of the more popular network shows due to its capability to evolve over time.
“The show has evolved as dating has evolved,” Harrison said. “It’s been fascinating to watch how its made that generational leap. Television shows don’t do that.”
When the floor became open to ask questions, students did not shy away from asking the hard stuff.
One student explained she’s noticed a lack of representation of people of color in the show and asked Harrison if producers were conscious of this.
Diversity is something producers are aware of, Harrison explained. However, it’s ultimately up to who can tell a story.
“It’s not that we didn’t try to have diversity in the show,” Harrison said. “Honestly what we’re looking for is stories and creating great TV and finding cast of characters from all across the country.”
The show has greatly improved since its start in 2002, according to Harrison, who mentioned Rachel Lindsay, the show’s first African-American Bachelorette.
“It was incumbent on us to change that narrative, and we have done that,” Harrison said. “Over the last several years, we have taken great strides in trying to make [the viewers] feel more represented.
He also mentions that many of the people behind the cameras come from a wide-range of races and sexual orientations.
“Behind the scenes is where a lot of people are represented,” Harrison said. We have black, Asian, gay, straight, trans in our crew. These are my family. My job over the last twenty years is to make sure these people stay employed.”
After answering questions from the audience for over an hour, Harrison stayed and took pictures with the students who were more than enthusiastic for the chance to snap a picture with him.