'The Bachelor' Announces Matt James as First Black Lead in Series History

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By RADIO.COM

Matt James will set out to look for love on the upcoming season of “The Bachelor.”

The New York native will appear in the 25th season of the franchise marking the first-ever black male lead.

The announcement was made on “Good Morning America.” The season will air in 2021.

James was initially supposed to appear on Clare Crawley’s season of “The Bachelorette,” but the season halted production due to lockdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic.

ABC Entertainment president said in a press release, “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.”

She acknowledged that the series has been lacking in diversity over the nearly two-decade run, adding, “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.”

The move comes amid nationwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice following the death of George Floyd.

James’ new role also comes after a Bachelor Nation petition that urged the franchise and ABC to embrace diversity and cast more contestants of color.

The petition – which was also backed by Rachel Lindsay, the only black lead in the show's 40-season history – amassed more than 85,000 signatures since Friday morning.

“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,” the petition read, adding, “representation matters, and it is one of the most important ways our country can embrace its diversity and evolve.”

Prior to James’ casting, Mike Johnson was in talks to become the first-ever black “Bachelor,” but the network decided on Cuban-American Peter Weber.

James made headlines in April after Crawley reportedly raised an issue with his Cameo account and called him out for being on the show for the "wrong reasons."

James responded explaining that he is on Cameo to raise money for coronavirus relief.

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