The decision comes as former Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay wrote a blog post demanding the show to improve upon its lack of diversity.
The Bachelorette’s Lindsay — the only Black person in 40 seasons of The Bachelor franchises to ever have one season devoted to her — has been a vocal critic of the show since appearing on it three years ago, and has said on her website that it’s long past due for a “diversity makeover.”
“I was hoping, when I came on, to be a trailblazer for that, and to increase diversity in the audience that watches it and also who comes on the show and who could potentially be the lead,” Lindsay told Good Morning America. “I felt like the franchise had my back in that. But in the last three years, there really haven’t been changes made.”
“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,” ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said in a statement. “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.”
Bachelor Nation also knows James as the best friend, roommate and business partner to fan-favorite Tyler Cameron; the two have spent the majority of the pandemic quarantined together in Florida, along with former Bachelorette Hannah Brown.
The 28-year-old real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder also played football at Wake Forest, had a short run in the NFL and now lives in New York City where he and Cameron run ABC Food Tours, an organization that offers kids from underserved communities the opportunity to explore the city through food, exercise and mental and physical wellness.
An upcoming season of The Bachelorette was shut down due to the coronavirus pandemic. No specific date for The Bachelor or Bachelorette‘s return has been announced yet.
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