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It's no secret by now that A LOT of Bachelor Nation folks have come out to really take a stand against racism in the franchise. We've had 40 combined seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette by this point, across 18 years, and Rachel Lindsay is the only black person to act as lead, with her season coming so far into the run as to have just been in 2017. She spoke out earlier this week, saying she could no longer represent the franchise if they didn't make serious changes, including casting a black lead for The Bachelor, and fans followed suit by signing a petition to see change happen.
Well, producers of The Bachelor took notice (finally) and have now announced a black lead for the series in Season 25. Ladies and gentlemen of Bachelor Nation, meet Matt James, The Bachelor 2021:
Alright, I know you're all wondering how this came about so quickly, and who this lovely (He seems tall. Do you see those dimples?) individual is, so here's what happened. Let's start with the details we know about Matt. The North Carolina native is a 28-year-old entrepreneur, real estate broker, and community organization founder who is actually setting about his Bachelor journey to try and find love for the first time. Here's the rest of his official bio:
[He] went to Wake Forest University, where he majored in economics and played wide receiver for the football team. He went on to play professional football, before moving to New York City, where he now resides. His love of food and passion for giving back led to his creation of an organization that is designed to find creative ways to engage kids from underserved communities in New York City, encouraging physical and mental wellness, while also giving them opportunities for new experiences throughout the city.
It should also be noted that Matt is Tyler Cameron's best friend, and the two run a charity together in New York, so it's not like Matt is totally new to this crazy Bachelor world, as he's been by Tyler's side through all of his ups and downs since he appeared on Hannah Brown's season of The Bachelorette in 2019. Still, it needs to be said: See, Bachelor producers? See how easy it was to find an amazing black dude to carry your franchise? This should have happened over a decade ago, but it's happening now, so don't blow this chance at redemption, alright?
After Rachel said she was embarrassed to still be repping all things Bachelor when they hadn't bothered to cast a black lead besides her, not to mention the racism that is prevalent in general within Bachelor Nation which has been allowed (and, some would say covertly encouraged), fans started the Bachelor Diversity Campaign on Twitter. Along with that came a petition, which over 85,000 people have signed as of this writing.
I can only imagine that the producers and ABC saw that the writing was on the wall, and realized that they had to act, and act fast. As you will likely notice, if you've been watching The Bachelorette for a few seasons, Matt has not been seen on screen in the franchise before, despite his friendship with Tyler. Well, he had been cast as a suitor for Clare Crawley's upcoming Season 16 of the show, which has been on hold since March.
There was a bit of controversy at the end of April, when Clare (who was seemingly doing research on her potential suitors) appeared to shade Matt on Twitter with this post:
Fans assumed she was talking about Matt, because he's one of only two of her proposed suitors to have such a strong media presence prior to her season. But, many of them came for her, pointing out that Matt was doing those interviews and Cameo videos to grow his charity. That led to a lot of fans saying they wouldn't be watching her season of The Bachelorette, and also calling for Matt to be Bachelor. A little over a month later, and those fans' dreams have come true. Wanna see Matt in action? Here ya go:
Holy...Is Matt actually rocking that salmon jacket of Tyler's that made the rounds to the torso of almost every dude on Hannah's season? You know, never mind, I'm just going to concentrate on the positives here...
While Matt seems like a perfect choice to lead The Bachelor, and I'm truly glad that the franchise has come around, I do not want this to be the end of things. We can't, in another 40 seasons, be looking back at Matt James and Rachel Lindsay and realizing that there haven't been any other leads of color since them (I still feel bad for Mike Johnson). Luckily, ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke sounds committed to doing the right thing going forward:
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.
Time will tell, won't it? Matt James and his season of The Bachelor should air in 2021. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more details as we near Season 25!