‘The Bachelor’ Casts Matt James, First Black Male Lead in Franchise History

His appointment comes after the franchise was criticized for its lack of diversity

Matt James

ABC’s long-running reality dating show “The Bachelor” named its first black bachelor Friday morning: Matt James.

The 28-year-old James became known to “The Bachelor” franchise through his close friendship with Tyler Cameron, who competed for Hannah Brown’s heart on the last season of “The Bachelorette.” James was also cast as one of Clare Crawley’s suitors in the upcoming season of “The Bachelorette,” which halted production in March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Longtime host of the series Chris Harrison has said that some of Crawley’s choices may have to be re-cast before her season finale resumes.

The move to cast James comes one week after Rachel Lindsay, who became first (and only) black “Bachelorette” in 2017, criticized the franchise for a lack of diversity, threatening to disassociate herself if a black “Bachelor” wasn’t cast.

ABC acknowledged the lack of diversity over the 24 seasons of “The Bachelor” and 15 seasons of “The Bachelorette.” “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. “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.”

In an interview with AfterBuzz last Friday, Lindsay called the long-running franchise’s output “whitewashed.” “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,” she said. “I have to see some type of change. It’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing. At this point, it’s embarrassing to be affiliated with it.”

Last month, Hannah Brown, a former beauty pageant queen who led last summer’s “The Bachelorette,” apologized after saying the N-word while singing along to a song in a since-expired Instagram Live video.

“I owe you all a major apology,” the reality TV star said in a statement on her Instagram. “There is no excuse and I will not justify what I said.”

“I have read your messages and seen the hurt I have caused. I own it all. I am terribly sorry and know that whether in public or private, this language is unacceptable. I promise to do better.”