Popular dating and relationship reality TV series show The Bachelor finally has a Black male lead cast in its 18-year history! It’s been a very long time coming but we welcome ABC’s openness to having a more diverse show moving forward.
On Friday, the television network announced 28-year-old Matt James as the lead star in the show’s upcoming 25th season. James, who is a real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder, was initially a contestant on season 16 of The Bachelorette. A North Carolina native and Wake Forest alum, James also had a brief stint in the NFL.
James’ announcement comes in the wake of a petition that was signed by over 90,000 people calling out a lack of diversity in the show and for the casting of a Black bachelor in its upcoming season, among other demands to “combat racism.”
“Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season. When filming couldn’t move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor,” Karey Burke, ABC Entertainment president, said in a statement.
“We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we’re seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in and we are proudly in service to our audience. This is just the beginning and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise. We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first Black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”
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Speaking on Good Morning America, James shared his excitement on being named as the first Black lead.
“It’s an honor,” he said. “I’m just going to lean into myself and how my mom raised me and hopefully when people invite me into their homes on Monday night they’re going to see that I’m not much different from them and they see that diverse love stories are beautiful.”
He also said he hopes this new chapter will pave the way “for a lot of diverse love stories because those are beautiful stories.”
“I’m looking for qualities that my mom embodies, and that’s selfless, honest, caring, compassionate and those are qualities found in women all shapes, sizes and races and it’s not a black or white thing,” he added. “I’m hoping when that limo pulls up there’s a lot of diversity and I see every type of women coming out of that limo.”
Be sure to check him out when the new season premieres next year!