Matt James will be the first Black man to be the lead on reality dating show, The Bachelor, making it the show’s first time in history.
What We Know:
- There have been over 40 seasons of Bachelor and it’s sister series, The Bachelorette combined and only one Black person has held the title. The 2017 season for The Bachelorette cast Rachel Lindsay as the first Black woman. The casting of James comes from the nationwide protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and the shows controversy over the lack of diversity and inclusivity.
- James was originally cast on the upcoming season of The Bachelorette despite the new star not being released until the show has aired. This process was fast-tracked due to production being put on hold because of COVID-19 restrictions. ABC’s president, Karey Burke says, “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. 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.”
- The show has received backlash from alumni and fans of the show asking for more diversity and to include a cast with people of color and with the recent protests, these comments have urged the producers to listen. A Facebook page, the Bachelor Diversity Campaign was launched by 10 “Bachelor” viewers and aims to get the franchise to “diversity its lineup and consistently cast BIPOC (Black, indigenous and people of color).”
- A former contestant, Lindsay says, “I was hoping, when I came on, to be a trailblazer (and to) increase diversity in the audience that watches it and alos who comes on the hsow and who could potentially be the lead. I felt like the franchise had my back in that. But in the last three years, tere really hasn’t been changes made.”
The Bachelor is set to premiere in 2021 but no date has been set yet. ABC has said they know casting James as the first Black bachelor won’t be the solution behind diversity issue but that they will work towards diversifying the cast members in the future.