‘The Bachelor’ Gets It’s First Black Male Lead and It’s Matt James

Bachelor nation got a shock this morning when it was announced that Matt James would be the newest Bachelor. By taking this role, James becomes the first black Bachelor in 24 seasons of the show. This announcement was monumental in not only content but timing. Usually, the newest Bachelor is announced after Bachelor in Paradise. But as COVID-19 has halted production on Bachelor shows, Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette has not even filmed yet. So, this announcement was about two Bachelor shows too early.

 Matt James and Tyler Cameron
Matt James and Tyler Cameron | Paul Bruinooge/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

The announcement

The announcement was made on Good Morning America.

“It’s an honor,” James said on the show. “I’m just going to lean into myself and how my mom raised me, and hopefully when people invite me into their homes on Monday nights, they’re going to see that I’m not much different from them and they see that diverse love stories are beautiful.”

Johnson’s new role was also announced on Instagram as is the norm for the franchise.

Controversy surrounding black leads

Before James’ announcement, Rachel Lindsay was the only black lead of the show. The franchise drew criticism from fans when Mike Johnson was skipped over as season 24’s Bachelor even though he was clearly the fan-favorite.

“In 40 seasons of [The Bachelor], you’ve had one black lead,” Lindsay said in an interview with AfterBuzz. “We are on 45 presidents. And in 45 presidents there’s been one black president. You are almost on par to say you’re more likely to become the president of the United States than you are a black lead in this franchise. That’s insane. That’s ridiculous.”

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Lindsay also released a blog post about how the franchise could become more diverse that got the attention of Bachelor execs.

“They agree with me,” Linsday told HollywoodLife of the Bachelor execs. “They’re pretty much saying, ‘I hear you. We see you. We recognize that change needs to be made and they make it seem as if there will be steps taken.

“I think I lost all hope when it wasn’t Mike Johnson,” she said of the producers overlooking Johnson for the role of the Bachelor. “And I thought, well, we’re never gonna get it at this point. I mean, he checked all the boxes. So I do feel like my blog sparked some attention, and I’m hoping to put a voice behind it. And I am getting the attention of producers. I have had executive producers reach out to me since the blog.”

Who was in the running to be the Bachelor?

Clearly, production was listening to Lindsay as they did move forward with James as the Bachelor. Johnson was also in the running as he still had a large following from his appearances on The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise.

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The strange thing about James in comparison to other leads is that he has never been on a Bachelor show. Audiences were first introduced to him as Tyler Cameron’s best friend. After Cameron went on Hannah Brown’s Bachelorette season, people noticed him on Cameron’s Instagram and became intrigued.

Hopefully, fans can get behind James and root for him to find love even though they didn’t get to watch him on any previous seasons like most leads.