Welcome to Bachelor Nation, Matt James! Some fans may recognize him as Tyler Cameron’s BFF and New York City roommate, but after initially being announced as a contestant vying for Clare Crawley‘s heart, he will now be leading his own season as the first black Bachelor.
“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,” ABC said in a statement on June 12. “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.”
Although this means Matt will not be vying for Clare’s heart during season 16, he’s “looking forward” to meeting her “eventually.” As far as his new leading role, the North Carolina native called it “an honor.”
Matt taking the reins of season 25 will make him the first black Bachelor in franchise history after a combined 40 seasons. Rachel Lindsay, who was the first black Bachelorette during season 13, has been vocal about changes that need to be made.
“At this point, it’s embarrassing to be affiliated with it,” the lawyer previously said about the reality dating franchise during an interview with AfterBuzzTV on June 5. “I think that they have to at this point, give us a black Bachelor for season 25. You have to, I don’t know how you don’t. And, it’s been asked of me, will I continue in this franchise if it continues in this way? I can’t. I have to see some type of change.”
Matt agreed with the Dallas native’s stance. “When Rachel speaks, we listen. She’s got a very important voice being the first black woman, person of color, to have a lead,” he expressed on Good Morning America after the big announcement. “So, I think we’re all following suit in that conversation and this is hopefully the first — this is the first of many black men to be in the position I’m in now.”
It seems as though the rest of the franchise is on board. “[The Bachelor] family is thrilled to start this journey with our new Bachelor! We can and we will do better to portray diverse love stories that reflect the world around us,” Chris Harrison wrote on Instagram to congratulate Matt. “This is just the beginning.”
Keep scrolling to learn more about Matt James!
1 of 6
2 of 6
3 of 6
4 of 6
5 of 6
6 of 6