ABC has officially announced that Matt James will be the lead for the next season of The Bachelor. James will be the first-ever black male lead of the series.
James, who is 28 years old, was previously cast as a contestant on the upcoming season of The Bachelorette, which will feature Clare Crawley as the lead. Production on the show has been delayed, and they have not yet started filming, so it seems that James will not be a part of that season, which is set to air in fall 2021 after filming in July and August.
“My first reaction was, ‘Does this mean I don’t get to meet Claire? Because I was looking forward to meeting her,'” James said on Good Morning America on Friday, June 12. “I had set aside all this time and we’d gone out to California and been called back for quarantine. I’m super excited for her and her season but I’m looking forward to meeting her eventually.”
Matt James is a Real Estate Broker and Entrepreneur
According to the ABC press release, James is a real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder. He’s from North Carolina and majored in economics at Wake Forest University.
James later went on to play professional football and then moved to New York City. He has a passion for food and giving back, which led to him creating an organization to find creative ways to engage kids from underserved communities in New York City.
James already has a sizeable following on social media, thanks in part to his friendship with Tyler Cameron.
ABC Said Matt James Has Been on The Radar Since February
Though a petition calling for ABC to cast a black lead started making the rounds in May and has amassed more than 80,000 signatures, ABC president Karey Burke said that Matt had been on the radar to be the next Bachelor since February.
“Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season,” Burke said in a press release. “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.”
Burke continued, emphasizing the responsibility ABC feels to show loves onscreen that are representative of the world their viewers live in.
“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 statement concludes.
Matt James Was Listed as a Contestant For the New Season of ‘The Bachelorette’
Prior to this casting announcement, James was listed as a suitor on Clare Crawley’s upcoming season of The Bachelorette. Usually, the new lead is a past contestant, but it seems that ABC is changing the way the show works this time around.
James is already familiar with the franchise outside of being casted for Crawley’s season. He’s close friends with Tyler Cameron, a seasoned alum of the show.
He’s also already seemingly been called out online by Crawley, though she has said that the Tweet that made headlines wasn’t about him.
“If you are doing interviews and creating Cameo accounts before you are even on my season… you are in it for the wrong reasons… #dontwasteyourtime,” the Bachelorette tweeted in April.
After fans pushed back to say that James, though he did have an account on Cameo, was raising money for the Robin Hood Foundation to help out with COVID-19 relief, Crawley said that her tweet was about multiple people casted for her show.
Season 25 of The Bachelor is scheduled to premiere in 2021.