Matt James To Become First Black Lead In The Bachelor Dating Show
When The Bachelor returns in 2020, Matt James will become the first black lead in the dating show’s history.
James will be the first black Bachelor since the show began 18 years ago, making him the second black lead across the entirety of the franchise following Rachel Lindsay in the 13th season of The Bachelorette.
It comes after Lindsay called out the franchise’s legacy of ‘whitewashing’ contestants and participants, threatening to part ways with the series if there wasn’t ‘some type of change’.
You can check out an interview with James in the video below:
James, a 28-year-old real estate broker, was announced as the 2021 edition’s lead by ABC on Good Morning America. He was originally set to appear on Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette, but the current pandemic threw the show into a temporary production lockdown.
While appearing on the morning show, James said: ‘I think it’s a step in the right direction, when Rachel speaks we listen… I don’t think it’s ever the wrong time to do the right thing.’
In a statement as per Deadline, ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said:
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. 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.
Lindsay’s initial comments to Afterbuzz sparked the start of a petition by the Bachelor Diversity Campaign, calling upon ABC and Warner Bros. to use the ‘opportunity and responsibility to feature Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) relationships, families, and storylines’.
The petition, which has more than 85,000 signatures at the time of writing, adds: ‘The franchise, and all those who represent it, should reflect and honor the racial diversity of our country – both in front of and behind the camera.’
In a later blog post, Lindsay said the show should make a statement ‘acknowledging their systemic racism. The system is not designed for people of colour’.
The 35-year-old added: ‘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.’
James’s season of The Bachelor is due to air in 2021, however there’s no date for the delayed season of The Bachelorette.
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