Bachelor Nation weighed in on Matt James being named the first black male lead in the history of the series after the show faced criticism for its lack of diversity.
The Bachelor announced on Friday, June 12, that the real estate broker, 28, would be the franchise’s next series lead — and the first black Bachelor.
“It’s an honor,” James, who is best friends with Tyler Cameron, said on Good Morning America. “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 nights, they’re going to see that I’m not much different from them and they see that diverse love stories are beautiful.”
The New York resident was initially cast as a contestant on Clare Crawley’s upcoming season of The Bachelorette. The show marked another historic first with the hairstylist, 39, being cast as the show’s oldest Bachelorette. Production on the season was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“When filming [Clare’s season] 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,” ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said in a statement.
Earlier this week, Rachel Lindsay called out the ABC series for having a majority white cast since its premiere in 2002. The former attorney, 35, was previously the only black lead in the Bachelor franchise’s history when she appeared on season 13 of The Bachelorette in 2017.
“I have come to the conclusion that if changes are not made on the inside and outside of the franchise, I will dissociate myself from it,” Lindsay wrote on her blog on Monday, June 8. “I am tired of asking for change and my requests have been ineffective. These changes have to extend beyond casting a lead of color. The whole franchise needs a diversity makeover.”
The Texas native also outlined direct steps that she hoped the network would take to rectify the problem.
“1. Cast leads that are truly interested in dating outside of their race. 2. Stop making excuses for the lack of diversity and take action to rectify the problem. 3. Diversify the producers on the show to make your contestants of color feel more comfortable. 4. Stop creating problematic storylines for people of color,” she wrote.
Days earlier, Bachelor Nation launched a Change.org petition that asked ABC to cast a black lead for season 25 and to make sure at least 35 percent of the contestants are people of color.
Scroll down to see reactions from the members of Bachelor Nation.