Matt James Is Officially ABC's First Black Bachelor

Matt James Is Officially The First Black Bachelor

June 12, 2020 Updated September 17, 2020

matt-james-bachelor-new
Craig Sjodin/ABC

Finally, we have our first Black Bachelor — and we couldn’t be happier about who it is

In 18 years and 40 seasons, ABC’s Bachelor franchise has only ever had one black lead. It’s unfathomable in 2020, but finally, things are changing. The next Bachelor was just announced, and he also happens to be the first Black man to nab the lead role: It’s Matt James, Tyler Cameron’s best friend and former roommate.

The announcement came after fans and stars of the franchise circulated a petition this week, demanding diversity on the show that’s representative of what America really looks like. The petition gained nearly 100,000 signatures, and was supported by famous past Bachelor stars like Nick Viall and Kaitlyn Bristowe. The move is many years too late, but at least it’s finally happening at all.

“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 accompanying the announcement, which was made on Good Morning America Friday. “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 had previously been cast as a contestant on Clare Crawley’s season, but after he and Clare got into a very awkward and public spat on Twitter over his fundraising on Cameo, there were questions about whether he’d still appear. Those questions were further amplified when host Chris Harrison announced that Clare’s cast of men would likely be restructured because of the filming delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. It’s unclear whether Matt will still appear on Clare’s season, or go straight to the next season of The Bachelor, whenever it’s able to film.

Still, fans have been calling for Matt to break into reality TV ever since noticing him as a regularly presence on Tyler Cameron’s Instagram. Tyler, who competed on Hannah Brown’s season of The Bachelorette, is one of the most popular contestants ever. Matt got yet another popularity boost when he spent the first weeks of quarantine in a Florida house with Tyler, Hannah, and some of their other friends. The group posted regular videos online to a Tik Tok account called TheQuarantineCrew.

@thequarantinecrewFind out more about the crew ##fyp ##foryou ##thequarantinecrew ##questionchallenge @matthewhayball on the Aussie vocals♬ original sound – thequarantinecrew

Due to all the coronavirus delays, we have no idea when the new season of The Bachelor will start filming or air. But we’re so excited to finally have the Black lead we’ve been asking for for years, and we can’t wait to see Matt’s journey unfold.