‘The Bachelor’ Casts First Black Lead: Meet Season 25 Star Matt James
It's official: Matt James is The Bachelor's first-ever black lead.
For the first time in its 18-year history, ABC announced Friday (June 12) the franchise's upcoming 25th season has cast a black Bachelor. The news comes amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter movement and years of criticism for the dating show's lack of diversity.
In a statement, ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said, "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."
The announcement also comes days after a petition — titled "A Campaign for Anti-Racism in the Bachelor Franchise" — was created calling for a black lead for The Bachelor's 2021 season, and former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay threatened to quit Bachelor Nation if the show didn't fix its diversity problem. (Lindsay was the franchise's only black lead in 40 seasons.)
So, who is Matt James, ABC's first black Bachelor?
You might recognize the 28-year-old real estate broker since he was set to compete for Clare Crawley’s heart on Season 16 of The Bachelorette. He's also Bachelor Nation fave Tyler Cameron's best friend. Together they founded ABC Food Tours, a nonprofit organization that provides culinary experiences to students in New York City.
Though we don't know when James' season will air due to COVID-19 restrictions and delays in production, he knows exactly what he's looking for in a wife.
"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 ... it’s not a black or white thing," he explained on GMA. "I’m hoping when that limo pulls up there’s a lot of diversity and I see every type of woman coming out of that limo."
"I've never been more excited about a lead being announced in this franchise," he added.
As the news broke, fellow Bachelor Nation stars took to social media to react to the announcement.
"Congrats @mattjames919. Very happy for you and @bachelorabc!" Season 24 Bachelor Peter Weber wrote via Instagram. "Enjoy the ride, just get it right the first time. It's easier that way."
"What the heck? Matt James is the Bachelor," former Bachelorette Hannah Brown said in a video on her Instagram Story. "I literally just woke up and I could literally not be so more excited. Y'all should be so freaking excited because this is the best human being in the entire world. Go ahead start getting your No.1 Matt James fans T-shirts printed because I'm definitely going to be wearing one. So proud of you Matt James."