It’s been a long, long time coming. But when Dotun Olubeko dropped on a knee to propose to Charity Lawson (adorably at her height level), I smiled. Then I cried. Then I texted my mom and friends I knew who were watching “The Bachelorette” (and those who stopped watching the franchise because they gave up on seeing a Black love story seasons ago). And then I rejoiced with Black Twitter, finding our way together to celebrate this historic moment in Bachelor history.
I’ve been a Bachelor franchise viewer for about a decade, and although I have seen mixed-race women who look like me on the journey to find their partners, inclusive representation was lacking. The time for a beautiful, melanated Black couple — a gorgeous lead in Lawson and every bit the prince charming in Olubeko — has been way overdue. My joy stemmed from young people with skin as richly dark and lovely as my mother’s — and all the oft-ignored-by-the-mainstream incredible women who raised me — taking center stage. It’s needed, it’s welcome, and we must not wait another 25 years to see it again.
Lawson and Olubeko spoke with POPSUGAR fresh off their engagement reveal, broadcasted to millions Monday night on ABC — and the love they’re feeling from fans is immense. “It’s been amazing to watch,” Olubeko shares. “We went into this leading with our hearts, just to find our person. And for this to end up being what it is, it’s an honor. And we respect the position so much, and we want to further that conversation and make sure that people understand what Black love can look like.”
“We want to further that conversation.”
For this Black love story, Black Twitter is already dialed in for the main event: a bustling, vibrant Nigerian wedding. “Whether I like it, there’s no avoiding it. My mom wants that to happen, like, yesterday,” Olubeko says, laughing; he comes from a vibrant, welcoming Nigerian American family. Although the couple have plans to simply do life together, they assure two weddings will take place when the timing is right. “We’re just going to take the next year or two to continue to enjoy each other’s company and live life, because it’s been so crazy for the past year. But we’re excited for the opportunity to have this Nigerian wedding, and likely that’s going to happen along with probably a more intimate one because we are meaningful people. So we want to have one that’s meaningful. But also a fun one, a fun one that’s vibrant and classic Nigerian fashion.”
Although there will be no wedding bells in the near future, Lawson is already excited to immerse herself in the richness of Nigerian culture. “I’m teaching her Yoruba,” Olubeko shares. And of course, Lawson is here for all of the culture’s delicious food. Rice and jollof for the win, y’all.
That authenticity from both Olubeko and Lawson made it such a fun ride watching the two find love in a hopeless place: reality TV. For Lawson, authenticity was essential, and she remained true to herself throughout the entire televised, highly scrutinized journey. “I knew for myself, if I was to be easily molded or swayed, I was going to leave or walk away from here probably not having the outcome that I truly wanted, and so it was an active thing for me,” Lawson says. “But also not something that I had to think about. I didn’t want to think about being a certain way. I just was.”
To stay anchored in simply being Charity, faith and culture led the way. “I did bring my journals and devotions and my Bible,” Lawson shares. “Just being a woman of faith, that was helpful for me to be anchored in.”
Her music, meanwhile, gave her the space to cut up. “The running joke for the season, the theme of the season, was ‘Wipe Me Down,'” she says, laughing, referencing the Boosie Badazz classic. “I always listened to that before a rose ceremony. Or just Beyoncé, things like that that really just allowed me to feel empowered in the moment or have a moment where I could just feel more at peace or at home and connected.”
“After encountering something so powerful, now the approach and how we view things is totally different.”
As Lawson starts this exciting chapter of her life — a new man and an upcoming run on “Dancing With the Stars” — she’s leaning on the works of one of our greatest late elders. “After filming, I started reading a book by bell hooks, which is ‘All About Love,'” Lawson says. “And that just allowed me to really have this overwhelming transformative outlook on what love is and how we come to know what love is. And so we often talk about it, too. After encountering something so powerful, now the approach and how we view things is totally different.”
It’s a tale as old as the Bachelor franchise: Lawson and Olubeko can finally share their love off camera. I’m excited to see the fun shenanigans of “Bachelor in Paradise” ensue and for “The Golden Bachelor” Gerry Turner to find his golden match. (My boomer mom is especially interested in that one!) And I’m here for Lawson’s runner-up, Joey Graziadei, to search for his OTP on the next season of “The Bachelor.” It’ll be business as usual for my regular rotation of Bachelor Nation offerings. But the Charity and Dotun era will have my heart for years to come.