The “Bachelor” is moving forward with its first black bachelor amid calls for more diversity on its show.
Matt James, 28, was initially cast as a contestant on Clare Crawley’s season of “The Bachelorette,” but production was halted amid the coronavirus pandemic.
In the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, people have petitioned ABC Entertainment to include more people of color on their show.
Page Six reports:
James, a New Yorker who works for the real estate group CBRE, was cast for the upcoming 25th season of the show following a recent fan-generated petition urging producers to increase diversity, as well as strong messages from past cast members.
ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said the coronavirus gave them a unique opportunity to reassess their show. She described James as “a perfect Bachelor” and said they were moving forward with him as the focus of their season, rather than just a contestant.
“Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season. 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 explained.
“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” the statement continued. “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.”
On “Good Morning America,” James said his selection was “a step in the right direction.”
“When Rachel speaks, we listen. She has a very important voice in all of this, being the first black woman, person of color to have a lead. I think we’re all following suit in that conversation, and this is hopefully, this is the first of many black men to be in the position that I’m in now,” he said.
Page Six adds:
In “The Bachelor” franchise’s 18-year, 40-season history, Rachel Lindsay has been the only black lead, starring as “The Bachelorette” in 2017.
Earlier this week, Lindsay, 35, and other show alums voiced support for the fan-based petition urging the series to cast its first black “Bachelor,” among other suggestions. As of Friday, over 85,000 fans had signed the petition.