It’s been a long time coming.
On Friday, ABC announced that Matt James will be the lead on season 25 of “The Bachelor”, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The season will air in 2021.
James will become the first Black man to lead the reality show in its 18-year history. He follows Rachel Lindsay, who became the first Black woman to lead “The Bachelorette” in its 13th season.
He was set to appear as a suitor on the upcoming season of “The Bachelorette” with Clare Crawley.
The 28-year-old real estate broker appeared on “Good Morning America” Friday to talk about the exciting news.
— Good Morning America (@GMA) June 12, 2020
“My first reaction was, ‘Does this mean I don’t get to meet Clare?’ Cause I was looking forward to meeting her.”
On the issue of lack of diversity on the show, he said, “I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
He also credited Lindsay for opening the conversation on diversity on the show.
“This is hopefully the first of many Black men to be in the position that I’m in now,” James added.
Asked if he thinks the move is “too little, too late”, James responded, “I don’t ever think it’s the wrong time to do the right thing. Too little, too late for me is this happening, and we can’t have change until we put that first foot forward.”
James was also asked about any pressure he might feel as the first Black lead in the show’s history.
“It’s an honour,” he said. “I’m just going to lean into myself and how my mom raised me, and hopefully when people invite me into their homes on Monday night they’re gonna see that I’m not much different from them, and they’re gonna see that diverse love stories are beautiful.”
Earlier this week, Lindsay came out in support of a petition to cast a Black lead on “The Bachelor”.
She also appeared on “GMA” on Friday to discuss James’ casting, saying, “I was hoping when I came on to be a trailblazer for that and to increase diversity in the audience that watches it. But in the last three years, there really haven’t been changes made.
“I want producers of colour,” Lindsay continued, according to ET. “I’d like for them to cast leads that are interested in dating outside of their race that aren’t just getting their first-time experience — for the first time — on national TV. I need the acknowledgment of that. Not putting a band-aid over the situation and just saying, ‘Here, we’re going to put this here. Are you happy now?'”
Meanwhile, “Bachelor” alums Tyler Cameron and Hannah Brown both reacted to the news of James’ casting.
Cameron revealed on Instagram that he was actually there with James during his “GMA” interview, writing “Let’s go.”
The Bachelorette Season 15 star later shared a picture of he and his “snuggle buddy” James taking a nap together in the backseat of a car.
View this post on Instagram
Congrats to my brother @mattjames919 on being named the Bachelor. This is all a testament of who you are as a person. Now the world gets to see the person you are and the heart you have. You can change the world. Proud of you and so excited for you. Not excited that somebody will be taking my spot as your snuggle buddy 😢 . PS peep the drool 🤤
The hilarious photograph was accompanied by an adorable message. “Congrats to my brother @mattjames919 on being named the Bachelor. This is all a testament of who you are as a person,” said Cameron, before joking, “Proud of you and so excited for you. Not excited that somebody will be taking my spot as your snuggle buddy. PS peep the drool.”
Brown posted a video on her Instagram Story, saying, “What the heck?! Matt James is the Bachelor… I could not be more excited. Y’all should be so freaking excited because he’s, like, the best human being in the entire world. …Y’all, this is amazing.”
She added in another post, “I’ve never been more excited about a lead being announced in this franchise.”
Rachel Lindsay, the first Black female lead for the franchise, added, “Congrats to Matt James. I am happy to see that a black man was cast after 18 years and 40 seasons. I believe it is a step in the right direction.”
Congrats to Matt James. I am happy to see that a black man was cast after 18 years and 40 seasons. I believe it is a step in the right direction.
— Rachel Lindsay (@TheRachLindsay) June 12, 2020