The show has cast its first black male lead, Matt James, in its 18-years history.
Matt James has been announced as the new lead of The Bachelor.
In a surprise announcement on Friday, ABC reveals on Good Morning America that Matt James will be the first black male lead on the series. James was originally cast on Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette. But production was on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The 30-year-old’s casting comes after the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement. The movement sparked an outrage of TV-shows having a lack of diversity. One of the many being ‘The Bachelor’.
In 2017, Rachel Lindsay made history on The Bachelorette as the first, and until now, only Black lead of the series.
James, an African-American real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder. Appeared on Good Morning America, to talk about the show. Calling his casting on the show, “A step in the right direction.”
Producers announced this week that Matt had already won the hearts of many to become the “perfect bachelor”.
Former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s first black lead, urged the show to undergo a “diversity makeover”. Meanwhile, a group called Bachelor Diversity Campaign, launched a petition demanding that ABC and Warner Bros., which produces the Bachelor franchise, cast a black lead for season 25.
‘There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing’
In his interview with Good Morning America James mentions how important Lindsay’s voice is. “When Rachel speaks, we listen,” James said. “She has a very important voice in all of this being the first Black woman, person of color, to have a lead. So, I think that we’re all following suit in that conversation. And this is hopefully the first of many Black men to be in this position that I’m in now.”
When asked if his casting on The Bachelor feels “too little too late,”
James replies, “I don’t think it’s ever the wrong time to do the right thing. Too little too late for me is this happening. We can’t have change until we put that first foot forward, and that first forward for The Bachelor franchise is having a black lead. So, I’m excited to take on that role.”
It’s unlikely that ABC’s decision to cast James is a direct result of recent criticisms, as he’s been talking with producers for several months.
Said ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke in a statement,
“Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clareâs season. When filming couldnât move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt. All agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor. We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories weâre 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. We cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”
‘Matt was somebody who was on our radar’
The timing of the announcement came to light, but the producers insist that Matt was already a potential star long before the Black Lives Matter movement.
Rob Mills, who oversees The Bachelor franchise at ABC, told Variety :
“Matt was somebody who was on our radar and we were thinking about him.
“We were thinking do we announce him early, or do we put him on Clareâs season and then announce him later, if it doesnât work out with Clare? We didnât make a final decision until recently, but this has been talked about for quite some time.”
As James shared, the news was so much of a secret, his mom didn’t even know until today!
“She’s going to be excited,” said James, who is a close friend of Bachelor Nation’s Tyler Cameron. “I’m sorry mom, but it’s hard for her to keep a secret, so I had to keep it super tight. She’s just now finding out, which is kind of a fun way for everyone to participate.”
When asked about his reaction to getting the call, James shared,
“My first reaction was, does this mean I don’t get to meet Clare? Because I was looking forward to meeting her. I had set aside all this time, we had gone out to California and then called back with quarantine. So, I’m super excited for her and her season, but I’m looking forward to meeting her eventually.”
‘I believe it is a step in the right direction’- Lindsay
Bachelor and Bachelorette fans who continue to stalk contestants’ social media accounts, may also recognize James from his frequent Instagram and TikTok appearances with former Bachelorette costars Tyler Cameron and Hannah Brown.
The decision of announcing Matt as the next bachelor was welcomed by former Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay.
James is a graduate of Wake Forest University and the founder of ABC Food Tours. It is an organization that supports kids in underserved New York City communities.
She took to Twitter to voice her support for the decision, writing: “Congrats to Matt James. I am happy to see that a black man was cast after 18 years and 40 seasons. I believe it is a step in the right direction.”
Though there is still no word as to when The Bachelorette will resume production. Host Chris Harrison says that producers are hoping to keep The Bachelor on schedule for a January 2021 premiere.