It's been a long and rocky road, but in a three-hour broadcast on March 15, this season of The Bachelor will finally come to an end. Along the way, we had to sit through a seemingly endless stream of hard-to-watch drama among the contestants—much of which overshadowed their comparatively unexciting interactions with the literal Bachelor, Matt James. Even more disappointing, of course, was the scandal that erupted when social media posts surfaced that appeared to show rumored frontrunner Rachael Kirkconnell "liking" and engaging in racist behavior; the situation was further compounded when longtime host Chris Harrison defended Kirkconnell's actions (even as she herself asked people to stop defending her indefensible actions) with repeated references to the "woke police."
Harrison's comments were met with immediate backlash, prompting him to announce that he was "stepping aside" from the franchise for an unspecified period of time. Since then, ABC has announced that past Bachelorettes Tayshia Adams and Kaitlyn Bristowe will cohost the next season of The Bachelorette (rumored to be headlined by this season's Katie Thurston) and, to close out the current season of The Bachelor, Emmanuel Acho will step in as host of the post-finale "After the Finale Rose" special. Bachelor Nation is already well acquainted with Adams and Bristowe, but less so with Acho—so here's everything you need to know about our ATFR emcee.
What is Emmanuel Acho famous for?
Acho was born and raised in Dallas, where he set records in high school for his football and track prowess. After being named the state's best high school linebacker, he was recruited by the University of Texas, where he continued to excel both on and off the field; he graduated in 2011 with a bachelor's degree in sports management. After graduation, he joined the NFL, cycling through the Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles, and New York Giants before returning to the Eagles in late 2013 and racking up a solid bit of official play time.
Throughout his time in the NFL, Acho spent his off-seasons back on the UT campus to pursue a graduate degree in sports psychology. He was released from the Eagles as a free agent in 2015 and graduated with his master's in 2017.
Has he been a TV host before?
After his time as a pro football player ended, Acho didn't stray too far from the field. In 2016, he began working as an analyst for his alma mater's designated Longhorn Network. After this and a two-year stint as an analyst for ESPN2's college football programming, he was tapped by Fox Sports in June 2020 to cohost the talk show Speak for Yourself, which focuses on starting conversations at the intersection of sports and politics.
Around the same time that he joined Speak for Yourself, Acho began hosting his own YouTube series, "Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man." In each episode, the 30-year-old invites often-famous guests for discussions that, yes, often veer into traditionally "uncomfortable" but incredibly important territory. Recent episodes include conversations on police brutality and accountability with actual police officers, on cancel culture with Chelsea Handler, and on the NFL national anthem protests with league commissioner Roger Goodell.
The series inspired Acho to publish a guidebook-style version of his groundbreaking dialogues; upon its release in November 2020, Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man quickly became a New York Times bestseller, was included in Oprah's "Favorite Things" list for the year, and is on track to be adapted into a children's book this summer.
"The only way that we can truly achieve empathy is through these conversations. I think that intention without direction ends up being void, and a lot of people have really good intentions, but they don't have a lot of great direction. And I think conversations will help lead to the direction of it all," he told Texas Monthly of the ethos of his "uncomfortable conversations."
What has he said about hosting "After the Final Rose"?
Acho introduced himself to Bachelor Nation in an Instagram post at the end of February. "It's been a pivotal season, and this episode will hopefully be one of the most storied shows in TV history. Empathy is needed and change is coming," he wrote. "I love being a bridge for reconciliation. Our world is disconnected & divided, my goal is to unify."
The day before the Bachelor finale aired, Acho took to his Instagram Story to continue to hype up the live special, writing, "Prepare to witness conversations you've likely never seen on linear television. It's an honor to serve y'all."
In a conversation with past Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay on Extra a few days before making his Bachelor debut, Acho opened up about his primary goals for the hosting gig. "Number one is to reconcile. There is so much tension between the photos that have surfaced around Rachael Kirkconnell that's like, wait a second, let's try to seek understanding first before we seek tension," he said. "And then number two is adequately tell these love stories. Matt is on a journey, and instead everything, to a degree, [is] overshadowed by him being the first Black Bachelor ... So let me honor Matt and his journey of love, especially as it comes down to these final couple of women."