ABC is fortunately looking to the future of The Bachelor with fresh eyes, and has announced that Matt James will be the next leading man. This casting marks the first-ever black Bachelor, and the second-ever black lead in the franchise, which debuted all the way back in 2002. Rachel Lindsay became the first (and only) black Bachelorette in 2017.
Many fans of the series will know Matt as the best friend of Tyler Cameron, who competed on Hannah Brown's season of The Bachelorette and came in second place. When the casting for Clare Crawley's planned season came out, it was revealed Matt had scored a spot to compete for her rose. However, with safety concerns surrounding COVID-19 halting production, it looks like many elements have been since moved around. It had even been rumored that ABC was going to recast Clare's competitors, as a handful were in their early 20s, and the franchise alum is 39. As for Matt, he's 28.
As reported by People, Matt's casting was announced on Good Morning America this morning, which you can watch in the clip below.
Additionally, a statement provided by ABC reads as follows:
"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. 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 becoming the next Bachelor clearly comes with much more significance than a usual casting. The announcement comes on the heels of a petition created, calling for more diversity in the franchise. The Change.org site, which in-part reads, "Representation matters, and it is one of the most important ways our country can embrace its diversity and evolve," received over 85,000 signatures from both Bachelor Nation members and fans. Rachel has also been incredibly vocal as of late on the need for inclusion on the show, admitting she was "embarrassed" at this point to be a part of it.
As Matt is certainly already a fan-favorite, this could not be better news.