For the first time in Bachelor franchise history, ABC announced their first Black Bachelor. Matt James has been honored with the role as he sets off on a mission to find true love. The historical move was made by the network amid a reenergized Black Lives Matter movement and after several stars who are tied to the franchise signed a petition demanding a Black male take the lead.
After 18 years of airtime, James will star in Season 25 of the romantic series. In a statement made by ABC, the network promised to make "significant changes" when it comes to the lack of diversity in its history. "We are excited to move forward with both Matt James as the new Bachelor and Claire 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," the network said. "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' casting comes amid a widespread call for better representation of BIPOC among Bachelor Nation, including a Changes.org petition calling for a Black Bachelor that has just under 100,000 signatures. Former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, the franchise's only Black lead, spoke out against the lack of diversity in Bachelor Nation, writing in a blog post that she would disassociate herself from the show altogether if solid efforts were not made to change the landscape.
As fans gear up to watch history in the making, below is a list of things we know so far about the new face of Bachelor Nation!
James was originally cast for Clare Crawley's season of 'The Bachelorette'
James was set to be one of the 30 lucky men to compete for the heart of new Bachelorette Clare Crawley. However, due to the coronavirus pandemic, ABC was unable to move forward with Crawley's season immediately, therefore, announcing James as the new Bachelor. This makes him the first Bachelor in 12 years to be cast as a leading role without having previously appeared on The Bachelorette.prevnext
Matt James and Tyler Cameron are best buds
Fans will remember Tyler Cameron who was featured during Hannah Brown's season of The Bachelorette. He quickly became a fan favorite after showing off his dance moves towards the beginning of the series. James gained a lot of attention after he quarantined with both Cameron and Brown in Florida during the first part of the pandemic. All three, along with several of their other friends, made a number of Tik Tok videos to keep fans entertained.
Cameron and James also went to college together at Wake Forest University where James played wide receiver for the football team. Since then, they've seemingly been inseparable.prevnext
He used to play in the NFL
While James is currently a real estate broker, he used to play in the NFL. While that was short-lived, he never thought he would make a career out of playing football. "I didn't think I was going to make a career out of football, but I thought my stint in the NFL would be longer than a few months," he revealed in an interview with DeacLink.com. James has a degree in economics and formerly worked for PNC bank before working as a research analyst at a commercial real estate company.prevnext
He lives in New York City
Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, he now calls the Big Apple home. In the same interview with DeacLink, he confessed that there are several things he loves about the populated city, including "diversity" and "opportunity."
"Diversity. You have no choice but to be inclusive. The thing about NYC, regardless of your culture, religion, gender, etc. if you're competent and work hard then you will succeed!" he explained. "You aren't discriminated against (like some parts of the country) as NYC is a melting pot like no other city." He then added, "Opportunity. You are uniquely positioned in a city where there is every industry and influential people all around you. If you're a mover and shaker, the world is your oyster. The resources are here for anyone to be successful if they choose to apply themselves."prevnext
He started ABC Food Tours
Following Cameron's appearance on the series, fans took notice in the work he started with ABC Food Tours. However, James was apart of the process of starting the non-profit, which takes kids from underserved communities and introduces them to new restaurants in efforts to educate them about new foods, cultures, fitness and health.
"It is going to give them something to aspire to aside to what they may be seeing at home, or what they are seeing on TV or what they are seeing in their community," he told NY1.com. He then revealed to DeacLink that his favorite part about running the organization is "working with kids!" He added, "They're at an age where they're super impressionable. No one is born racist or rude; these are all traits that are acquired through influence and experience. If you can positively influence these students at this age, you can potentially change the course of their lives."prevnext
He knows what he wants in a partner
In an interview with Good Morning America according to E!, James revealed that he wants a woman who resembles some of the same qualities as his mother does. "Fortunate for me, I'm looking for qualities that my mom embodies and that's selfless, honest, caring, compassionate," he said. "And those are qualities found in women all shapes, sizes and races. And it's not a Black or white thing. So, I'm hoping that when that limo pulls up, there's a lot of diversity and I see every type of woman coming out of that limo."prev