In a move that comes amidst The Bachelorette season 13 lead Rachel Lindsay calling out the network and franchise to "acknowledge their systemic racism" (and to show that it actually takes place in 2020 and not 1920), ABC's The Bachelor has chosen the reality series' first Black "bachelor" with Matt James set to lead the 25th season. Originally set to be a prospective suitor on The Bachelorette before the COVID-19 pandemic impacted production, James is only the second black lead in the franchise's history (following Lindsay's casting on The Bachelorette). While James' season is set for a 2021 debut, plans were not revealed for the upcoming season of The Bachelorette.
James is a 28-year-old real estate broker, entrepreneur, and community organization founder. A North Carolina native, James majored in economics and played wide receiver for the Wake Forest University football team. James would go on to play professional football before relocating to New York City, where he founded an organization to engage children in underserved communities. Encouraging physical and mental wellness, James' organization looks to give the kids opportunities for new experiences across NYS.
View this post on Instagram
"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," explained Karey Burke, President, ABC Entertainment, in a statement released on James' casting. "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."
Hosted by Chris Harrison, ABC's The Bachelor is a production of Next Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Unscripted Television. Mike Fleiss, Martin Hilton, Nicole Woods, Bennett Graebner, Peter Gust, Tim Warner, Louis Caric, and Peter Geist serve as executive producers.