GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOTV)- There’s a new bachelor in town and he’s already making history! ABC announced on Friday, June 12, that Matt James is the Season 25 Bachelor, making him the first black male lead in the franchise’s 18-year history!
This isn’t the first time that milestones have been reached on the show! The 28-year-old real estate broker from Raliegh, North Carolina, was set to compete for Clare Crawley’s heart on Season 16 of The Bachelorette. Crawley first made headlines for becoming the oldest female Bachelorette lead! Although her season is temporarily postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it will resume in the fall and The Bachelor starring James will air in 2021.
Although James is no stranger to Bachelor Nation because he’s best friends with Tyler Cameron, runner-up on Hannah Brown’s season, the casting is a big deal!
Fans have often criticized the franchise for their lack of diversity over the years. For 24 seasons, The Bachelor has featured white-male leads, with the exception of Juan Pablo and Peter Weber.
In 2019, viewers were hoping that Mike Johnson would become the first black male lead after growing in popularity during Hannah Brown’s season. Peter Weber was chosen instead.
The franchise did cast their first female black lead, Rachel Lindsay, for season 13 of The Bachelorette, which ultimately sparked the demand for more black representation.
Since starring on the show, Lindsey has spoken out about the importance of diversifying the franchise and has encouraged fans to support “The Bachelor Diversity Campaign”, a petition created for “anti-racism in the Bachelor franchise”.
ABC has since released the following statement in regards to diversifying The Bachelor’s cast,
“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.”
While James hasn’t responded to the outpour of love on social media just yet, we’re still excited to tune in for new seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette!