It’s official: After 25 seasons, ABC’s The Bachelor has *finally* cast their first Black lead. Meet Matt James!
For anyone wondering “who the heck is Matt James and what season of The Bachelorette was he on?!” you’re definitely not alone. James isn’t a former contestant voted out on night one that you just forgot about. In fact, Matt’s casting is pretty unique. The 28-year-old real estate broker and founder of charity organization ABC Food Tours actually hasn’t been a part of any of the franchise’s hit shows…yet. Matt was initially cast as a contestant on Clare Crawley’s upcoming (and indefinitely postponed due to COVID-19) season of The Bachelorette back in March, after catching the attention of Bach nation as the BFF and roomie to fan fave (and Quibi star) Tyler Cameron.
Which is no surprise because…look at him!!
He is actually so hot that my eyeballs are suffering from third-degree burns.
Read this next: Clare Crawley Is Our New Bachelorette!
Matt’s casting comes just days after the launch of an online movement by Bachelor nation fans urging the franchise to cast its first Black male lead. In the 40 seasons of the franchise’s hit shows, there has only been one other Black lead (season 13’s Rachel Lindsay). In a statement to Good Morning America on June 12, ABC said they are “privileged to have Matt” as the first Black 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,” the statement read. “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 will not be appearing on Clare’s season.
While we’re *thrilled* about this casting, it’s important to note that this decision was made only after an impassioned call-out from fans online along with former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay during a global Black Lives Matter movement. It’s great, and long overdue, that the franchise has chosen a Black male lead, but as many have pointed out, the show needs to make sure they treat Matt right. That means not dropping the ball once his season starts by casting racist contestants (à la Rachel’s season), making him educate contestants (and America) on race, and continuing to lack diversity in contestants, and behind-the-scenes. Casting one Black lead doesn’t immediately absolve the franchise.
And let’s not forget how Rachel was treated on her season, which included a contestant with a history of racist tweets.
They better treat this man right https://t.co/iSIz1TzbK8
— Ishani Nath (@ishaninath) June 12, 2020
Speaking to Good Morning America after the June 12 announcement, Matt revealed that his mom didn’t yet know he’d been chosen as the next Bachelor, but was nevertheless excited. “It’s an honour,” he said of being chosen. “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.”
Matt’s season of the show is set to premiere in 2021. We still have an entire season of The Bachelorette to get through before we can see his search for love onscreen, but nevertheless we’re über excited about this casting.
Our only remaining question: What about Mike Johnson?!