Matt James, a 28-year-old real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder, has been cast as the lead for the 25th season of "The Bachelor."
The franchise has long been criticized for its lack of diversity, particularly among its leads. The decision to cast James comes as former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay, the first and only Black lead on the show prior to the James announcement, wrote a blog post earlier this month demanding the show improve upon its lack of diversity.
“Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season," said Karey Burke, president, ABC Entertainment. "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. We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first Black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”
The North Carolina native went to Wake Forest University, where he majored in economics and played wide receiver for the football team. James was a teammate and is close friends with Tyler Cameron, who was runner-up on “The Bachelorette” last year. He spent time with Cameron and Hannah Brown, who was “The Bachelorette,” during quarantine in the past few months.
James lives in New York City where he shares an apartment with Cameron. The duo are the co-founders of ABC Food Tours, an organization aimed at helping children in underserved communities.
Season 25 of “The Bachelor” is scheduled to premiere in 2021.