After 24 seasons aired over 18 years, “The Bachelor” will finally feature a black man as the show’s lead.
On Friday, “Good Morning America” announced that Matt James, a 28-year-old who was originally cast as a contestant on Clare Crawley’s season of “The Bachelorette,” will be the flagship show’s next Bachelor.
“The Bachelor” and its spinoff shows have long been criticized for their lack of diversity in casting, and in how contestants of color are treated on the show. In 40 seasons of “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette,” there’s only been one person of color as the lead: Rachel Lindsay, who first appeared in Nick Viall’s 2017 season of “The Bachelor” and then went on to be “The Bachelorette” in 2018. Lindsay is married to her final pick from that season, Bryan Abasolo.
Recently, a Change.org petition calling on ABC and Warner Bros., the show’s production company, to cast a person of color in the lead role garnered more than 85,000 signatures. “The franchise, and all those who represent it, should reflect and honor the racial diversity of our country — both in front of and behind the camera,” the petition reads, following up with 13 commitments signatories would like to see, including giving equitable screen time to white contestants and contestants of color and fair compensation for the show’s employees of color.
When asked on “GMA” whether James thought ABC’s decision was “too little, too late,” he responded: “I don’t think it’s ever the wrong time to do the right thing.”
It’s unclear whether James remains a contestant on Crawley’s season of “Bachelorette.” Filming has been delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and will air in the fall, “GMA” said. James is friends with several of the shows’ alumni, “GMA” said, including Tyler Cameron and Hannah Brown, who was the 2019 Bachelorette.
Lindsay appeared on “GMA” as well, saying that the show still has a long way to go. Lindsay said she’d like to see producers of color behind the camera, and “I’d like to see them cast leads who are interested in dating outside of their race.”
James noted that he didn’t even tell his mother about the announcement before it was made — because she can’t keep a secret. He’s looking for a woman who’s “selfless, honest, caring and compassionate,” adding that he hopes his cast of contestants will be diverse, too.