Will you accept Matt James’ rose? The Bachelor made history on Friday, June 12, by naming their first black lead for the upcoming 25th season.
While the 28-year-old was set to compete for Clare Crawley’s heart on season 16 of The Bachelorette, ABC opted to make him the next Bachelor after her season was postponed amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season. 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,” ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said in a statement on Friday. “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.”
During James’ appearance on Good Morning America on Friday, ABC confirmed that Crawley’s season is set to air in the fall. According to reports, the 39-year-old salon owner will start filming in July. James’ season of The Bachelor is expected to premiere in January 2021.
“It’s an honor [to be the first black Bachelor],” he said on GMA on Friday. “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.”
ABC’s decision to pick James comes less than a week after Bachelor Nation started a petition to get more diversity in the franchise. Rachel Lindsay, who is the show’s only black Bachelorette, has also been vocal in recent years about her issues with the dating show.
“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.”
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