While some authors are anxious to share their stories with the world, Matt James was ready to give Bachelor viewers the missing pieces to his journey — and encouraged the franchise to be more transparent to avoid tell-all books in the future.
“I had already said it, like, I was preparing [to see it] on TV and when I didn’t see it, I’m, like, ‘Dang, I guess it was too raw,’” the 30-year-old season 25 star said on Us Weekly’s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast about opening up about race, his family and more while filming the show. “I guess it was too raw for what they were looking for, which is unfortunate because when you’re vulnerable and you’re open about those things, like, the little bits that they shared that I was very vulnerable, hella people resonated with that. They’re like, ‘Yo, I felt that.’ I’m like, ‘It’s not that hard of a formula — how about y’all double down on the realness?’”
Matt’s season debuted in January 2021, making him the first Black Bachelor since the 2002 premiere.
“People aren’t dumb anymore. Maybe back in the day, you could get away with like, ‘Oh my, this is crazy.’ [But] there’s been too many books come out. There’s been too many whistleblowers, like, we’re past that. Come on now, let’s be real,” the First Impressions author continued. “That’s why you’re seeing people go watch these other shows because, like, they’re not tiptoeing around. … How about you double down, Bachelor or Bachelorette on the realness and you’re straight. It’s frustrating because you’ve got so much good stuff there and you’re fumbling the bag.”
In his book, which hit shelves on Tuesday, May 3, Matt insists that the show cut out his deep conversations for “blatantly inauthentic dramatic twists.” Still, he managed to find love with Rachael Kirkconnell. Their relationship was plagued with controversy, however, as the season was airing when pictures of the Georgia native at a Rose Ball Formal on a plantation in college resurfaced. Then-host Chris Harrison subsequently came under fire when asking the fans to have “grace” for the contestant.
While Matt and Rachael ended up getting back together shortly after the finale aired in March 2021, the network cut ties with Harrison.
“We spent enough time talking about that stuff,” Matt told Us of not mentioning Harrison by name in the book or writing about the interview fallout. “I hate beating a dead horse and everything’s played out how it’s played out and there’s no need to go back [to] something that we’ve talked so much about because unfortunately, those type of conversations overshadowed context that I would’ve liked to have been applied to the season that would’ve answered a bunch of questions. They had things that I talked about and discussed and went into in-depth in my dates and on group dates and on one-on-ones that never aired. So I didn’t wanna take any more time to talk about that stuff. I wanted to focus on themes that I felt could really help people and I don’t think that going back on that would be any help to anybody.”
First Impressions is available now. For more from Matt, listen to the Tuesday, May 3, episode of the “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast.