ABC announced the next Bachelor on “Good Morning America” Friday morning (June 12) with little fanfare. The network revealed that Matt James, 28, will take the reigns from last season’s Peter Weber to lead the 25th season, making him the first African American male to take the lead on the Bachelor. Rachel Lindsay was the first African American woman to be in the lead role for The Bachelorette in 2017.
“Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season,” said ABC President Karey Burke of the pick. “When filming 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. 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. This is just the beginning, and 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.”
Matt was introduced to Bachelor Nation when he was prospective suitor for Bachelorette Clare Crawley. Clare called out contestants on her season for being fame-hungry and while she didn’t mention any names, many people assumed she was talking about Matt. Clare later came out saying she wasn’t talking about one specific person.
“If you are doing interviews and creating Cameo accounts before you are even on my season… you are in it for the wrong reasons…#dontwasteyourtime,” Clare tweeted. “Respect the opportunity you’ve been given. Respect the rules. Respect me.”
The press release reveals a little about the new Bachelor saying, “The North Carolina native went to Wake Forest University, where he majored in economics and played wide receiver for the football team. He went on to play professional football, before moving to New York City, where he now resides. His love of food and passion for giving back led to his creation of an organization that is designed to find creative ways to engage kids from underserved communities in New York City, encouraging physical and mental wellness, while also giving them opportunities for new experiences throughout the city.”
The Bachelor series came under fire for their lack of diversity from fans and former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, when she stated that the series needs to become more diverse or she could no longer associate with them.
“I think the pressure is so great and I hate that it had to get to this, but I have said, ‘they have casted for forty seasons and in forty seasons you’ve had been one black lead,” Rachel said in an interview with Afterbuzz. We are on forty five presidents and in forty five presidents there has been one black president. You are almost on par to say that you are more likely to become the President of the United States than you are to become a black lead in this franchise. That’s ridiculous.”
[RELATED: Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay Speaks out on Diversity in Bachelor Series — “They Have to Give Us a Black Bachelor for Season 25”]
“I think that they have to, at this point, give us a black Bachelor for season 25. You have to. I don’t know how you don’t,” she added. “And 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. It’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing. At this point, it’s embarrassing to be affiliated with it.”
James has a connection to Bachelor Nation already. The 28-year-old is friends and roommates with Bachelorette runner up (on Hannah Brown’s season), Tyler Cameron. The two buddies met while playing football at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.
Season 25 of The Bachelor is scheduled to premiere in 2021.