'The Bachelor': Matt James Selected As First Black Lead In Series History
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'The Bachelor': Matt James Selected As First Black Lead In Series History

For the first time in series history, a Black lead has been selected as ABC’s The Bachelor. Matt James will headline the new season, which will air in 2021. He’s just the second Black lead in the entire The Bachelor franchise.

He was initially set to be one of the suitors on the upcoming season of The Bachelorette, but production was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. This announcement comes after Rachel Lindsay, the first and only Black lead on The Bachelor‘s sister show, The Bachelorette, slammed the franchise for its continued lack of Black leads and said that she would distance herself from it if things did not change. James has familiarity with the viewers of the franchise also due to his close association with Tyler Cameron, the runner-up on the Hannah Brown season.

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In an interview with Variety, Rob Mills, the top executive over unscripted at ABC said,  “He [Matt] would have been on Clare’s season if it started in March. When we realized the shutdown was going to extend through the summer, we started thinking about how we were going to choose our Bachelor. Matt was somebody who was on our radar and we were thinking about him. We were thinking do we announce him early, or do we put him on Clare’s season and then announce him later, if it doesn’t work out with Clare? We didn’t make a final decision until recently, but this has been talked about for quite some time.”

Mills also rebuffed claims that this casting could be in response to Lindsay’s comments.  “It wasn’t a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later,” Mills said. “Certainly no one is blind to what is happening in the world, so hopefully this announcement serves as a bit of optimism during a time that we can really use this, but I don’t want this to look like we’re patting ourselves on the back or taking a victory lap. We don’t want this, in any way, to seem like a cure-all and seem like, ‘Hey! Look what we did here!’ We know this is a few grains of sand in a very big hourglass. It’s taken a while to get where we are and we will continue to go further, and I acknowledge it may not be enough. In the last few years, I believe it’s gotten better and with the announcement of Matt, I hope it keeps getting better. We are very excited about Matt.”

“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 Entertainment president Karey Burke. “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.”


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