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It’s a historic day for Bachelor Nation as ABC announced Friday on Good Morning AmericaMatt James will be The Bachelor’s first Black show lead.
“It’s an honor,” James told GMA. “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.”
James, a 28-year-old North Carolina native, was set to be a suitor on Clare Crawley’s upcoming season of The Bachelorette, but when production stopped due to Covid-19, the franchise decided to give James a bigger role as the next show lead.
He might be a familiar face to some members of Bachelor Nation as he works with Tyler Cameron co-running ABC Food Tours. The duo work with underserved elementary students to bring them to local restaurants and teach them how to live a healthy, active lifestyle.
James is also good friends with Hannah Brown, who shared her enthusiasm on Instagram when the decision was announced.
“Y’all should be so freaking excited, because this is like the best human being in the entire world,” Brown said. “This is amazing. So proud of you, Matt James.”
The announcement of The Bachelor’s first Black lead comes four days after a petition launched calling on the franchise to increase diversity and anti-racism efforts. Former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, the only Black lead in forty seasons of the franchise, has been a leading critic of the show’s minimal diversity. She told AfterBuzz TV’s Bachelor A.M. that she would cut ties with the show if they didn’t cast a Black Bachelor.
“It’s been asked of me, will I continue in this franchise if it continues in this way? I can’t. I have to see some type of change,” she said. “At this point it’s embarrassing to be affiliated with them.”
Karey Burke, the president of ABC Entertainment, said in a statement that the network is committed to diversity.
“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,” she said. “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.”
Lindsay told GMA that casting a Black Bachelor is a good start, but that this single action is not enough.
“I want producers of color,” she said. “I would like for them to cast leads that are interested in dating outside of their race, aren’t just getting their experience for the first time on national TV. I need the acknowledgement of that, not putting a Band-Aid over the situation and just saying, ‘Here, we’re gonna put this here, are you happy now?’”
“When Rachel speaks, we listen,” James said. “She has a very important voice in all this, being the first Black woman, person of color, to have a lead. I think that we’re all following suit in that conversation and this is hopefully the first of many black men to be in the position that I’m in right now.”
“I don’t think it’s ever the wrong time to do the right thing,” he added. “We can’t have change until we put that first foot forward and the first foot forward for ‘The Bachelor’ franchise is having a black lead so I’m excited to take on that role.”
James says he’s looking forward to meeting a diverse group of women on the show and hopes to find someone with similar attributes to his mom.
“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 said. “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.”
How excited are you that Matt’s the next Bachelor? Let us know in the comments, and if you love The Bachelor as much as we do, share this article with a friend! Keep tuning in to AfterBuzz TV for articles, videos and podcasts covering the best in pop culture news and discussion.
We here at AfterBuzz TV are in full support of the Black Lives Matter movement, so please continue to tune in to our network daily for more coverage!
Meagan Lynn is a host at AfterBuzz TV and Elon University graduate with a degree in journalism. She loves singing, listening to inspirational podcasts and watching reality TV.
Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, artist-friendly AfterBuzz TV is the world’s largest digital broadcast network and pop culture news platform, producing post-game ‘after-shows’ for nearly all favorite TV shows, interviewing cast and showrunners and providing the widest video, audio and article coverage of shows, content and influencers than any entertainment news platforms in existence
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