After 24 seasons of white men, Matt James is The Bachelor’s first black male lead. The 28-year-old real-estate broker and BFF to Tyler Cameron is coming to boost the show’s diversity after its first black Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, called for the show to address the franchise’s systemic racism (or she’s out). Matt James was originally going to be a suitor on Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette, but the coronavirus delayed production indefinitely. “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,” ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said in a statement obtained by The Hollywood Reporter Friday. “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.”
Matt James’s Tinder bio would be a dream to come across. The North Carolina native had a short stint in the NFL and currently runs a community organization with Cameron, taking underserved children on food tours around New York City. Now, he’s the hope for Bachelor Nation. In support of Lindsay, thousands of fans and many alums, like Nick Viall, signed a petition campaigning for The Bachelor to address its racism and demanding that a black man be cast for season 25. With production stuck on pause, we won’t see Matt James (and hopefully a whole lot of women of color) until season 25 airs in 2021, but it gives Bachelor Nation plenty of time to practice anti-racism. Some of them could use it.