After Hannah Brown’s season of The Bachelorette, it seemed Mike Johnson might be poised to be the dating franchise’s first Black Bachelor. Then, Peter Weber was cast. Next, Matt James was announced in the historic role. On Bachelor Nation’s newest podcast, Talking It Out, Johnson is opening up about being passed over for the lead.
“I didn’t even know there was a position that one gets, you know, if the producers or whoever makes a decision likes you to where you have your own show,” Johnson told his co-host, Bryan Abasolo. “Genuinely didn’t know that, right. So I just got to say thank you to everybody for that. But then when I found out about it, I was like ‘Hell yeah, I want to be the Bachelor.’”
The Bachelor in Paradise alum admitted, after being passed over, “Not gonna lie about it, I truly did feel insignificant. I felt as if my character and my physical appearance were on trial.” He continued, “I feel that Peter and I feel that Matt are great individuals, but for them to get it over me when the fans wanted me, there had to be a reason that I was not chosen as the Bachelor.”
Still, he asserted, “Nobody can take my Black boy joy away from me.”
When Johnson was not chosen, cries from Bachelor Nation alum and fans for greater diversity grew stronger. A Change.org petition calling for a Black Bachelor, among other efforts to increase diversity in the franchise, gained momentum amid the Black Lives Matter movement. James was then announced as the first Black Bachelor, despite not previously appearing in the franchise.
Had he been chosen, Johnson would have made history in more ways than one. As he put it, “I do think though, I ain’t gonna front about it. Like, I don’t live with my mom or my dad, I would have been the first veteran, I have a truly compelling story, I have experience within love and so I was like, why not me?”
The Air Force Veteran has since found peace with the dating competition’s decision.
“It was a decision that was outside of my control,” he said. “It’s the serenity prayer, you know, ‘God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.’”
Since his time vying for Brown’s heart, Johnson has made moves both personally and professionally. He now lives with his former castmate, Connor Saeli, in Austin, Texas. In October, he released his debut book, Making the Love You Want. In addition to Talking It Out, he was just announced as the host of Fox’s digital short series, That Looks Good.
“I’m just thankful for the opportunity to even be on The Bachelor franchise to find love and to have a sounding board on Talking It Out,” he said.
Johnson Continues to Sing James’ Praises
Johnson has only been positive about James, whose best friend Tyler Cameron also appeared on Brown’s season. As he told Heavy, “Unequivocally Matt will be the best Bachelor to date.”
James was a largely unfamiliar face to the franchise, as the first lead since 2008 who has not appeared on a previous iteration of the show.
The Texas-native continued, “For two reasons, one is personality and two I feel that the franchise will ensure that he’s really, really good. You know the way they can edit things, I know they’re going to do a wonderful job and Matt is just a phenomenal human being.”
Johnson and Abasolo Were Announced Last Week as the Hosts of ‘Talking It Out’
Last week, Bachelor Nation announced the launch of its third official podcast, Talking It Out. It is joining the ranks of Bachelor Happy Hour and Click Bait.
“Mike and I, we wanted to bring two diverse individuals with different backgrounds together to explore all kinds of uncomfortable topics and unconventional viewpoints and thought-provoking conversations about love, relationships, family,” Abasolo told E! News.
“I love the name Talking It Out because that’s exactly what we’re going to do—talk it out every single episode,” added Johnson. “It’s not a Bachelor podcast, it’s not strictly a relationship podcast… It’s going to be a podcast from the male psyche. That’s what we’ll bring to the table.”
The podcast releases new episodes every Monday.