Welcome to Bachelor Nation, Matt James!
In June 2020, ABC announced that James — who was originally going to compete on Clare Crawley‘s season of The Bachelorette — is set to be the first Black Bachelor. Bachelor Nation had already gotten to know the former football player as he is best friends with Tyler Cameron, who came in second place on Hannah Brown‘s season of The Bachelorette in 2019.
When the reveal was made, the ABC Food Tours founder shared how blessed he is to become the first Black Bachelor — something that ABC had been asked about for years.
“I don’t think it’s ever the wrong time to do the right thing. We can’t have change until we put that first foot forward,” he said on Good Morning America on June 12. “I think a lot of people are in that situation where they’re uncomfortable dating outside their race. It’s a conversation starter for a lot of people. And hopefully again it paves the way for a lot of diverse love stories, because those are beautiful stories.”
Shortly after the news broke, the real estate broker popped up on The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons — Ever! and shared his excitement with host Chris Harrison.
“I’ve heard from a lot of my Black friends that aren’t Bachelor Nation faithful that are excited about me and honored that I’m in the position I’m in and have this opportunity to just represent what it’s going to look like to have diverse relationships and tell those love stories,” he said.
The announcement also opened up a wider conversation on ABC’s end when it comes to casting.
“We can and we will do better to portray diverse love stories that reflect the world around us,” Harrison, 49, posted via Twitter following the news. “This is just the beginning.” (Rachel Lindsay paved the way as the first Black Bachelorette in 2017.)
Hours after the reveal, the executive producers of the show also released a joint statement, vowing to do better casting more diverse suitors and leads. “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,” they said in a statement on June 12. “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.”
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