'The Bachelor' Makes Pledge to Change Lack of Diversity in Franchise After Matt James Announcement

The Bachelor franchise made history on Friday as they announced Matt James as the next Bachelor, making him the first Black male to receive the title. The announcement came several days after Bachelor Nation launched a petition calling for more diversity within the franchise, both in terms of the cast and the crew. On Friday, the executive producers of the Bachelor franchise released a statement in which they pledged to make changes to address the lack of diversity on their shows.

According to E! News, the executive producers, which includes host Chris Harrison, shared that they will be making "significant changes" to their programming going forward. They also acknowledged that they would be moving forward with both James' season of The Bachelor and Clare Crawley's season of The Bachelorette soon. The statement read, "We are excited to move forward with both Matt James as the new Bachelor and Clare Crawley as our next Bachelorette. We acknowledge our responsibility for the lack of representation of people of color on our franchise and pledge to make significant changes to address this issue moving forward. We are taking positive steps to expand diversity in our cast, in our staff, and most importantly, in the relationships that we show on television. We can and will do better to reflect the world around us and show all of its beautiful love stories."

James was initially announced as a contestant on Crawley's season of The Bachelorette. But, due to the coronavirus pandemic, her season of the ABC series was forced to postpone filming. As a result, the Bachelor franchise decided to push forward and name James, who is best friends with former Bachelorette contestant Tyler Cameron, who competed on Hannah Brown's season, as the Bachelor. James, 28, is a North Carolina native who previously attended Wake Forest University, where he majored in economics. He went on to play football professionally before eventually moving to New York City.

Karey Burke, the president of ABC Entertainment, spoke out about James' casting. Burke said that producers were able to make their decision after getting to know the former football player following the delay of Crawley's season. She said, "When filming [Crawley's season] 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." Both Crawley and James' seasons are expected to film some time this summer, dependent on the severity of the coronavirus pandemic.