The Bachelor casts Matt James as first Black Bachelor in show's 18 year history

Naomi Gordon
Photo credit: Craig Barritt - Getty Images

From Harper's BAZAAR

The Bachelor has cast its first black male lead in the show's 18 year history.

ABC confirmed on Friday that Matt James, a 28-year-old real estate broker, will star in the next season of the reality dating show, after increasing criticism over a lack of diversity.

James described his casting as "a step in the right direction" during an interview on Good Morning America on Friday.

"I don't think it's ever the wrong time to do the right thing," he added.

The show has featured overwhelmingly white casts since it began in 2002, with just one black star in its sister spinoff, The Bachelorette, in 2017.

An online petition signed by more than 86,000 people called for ABC to "reflect and honour the racial diversity of our country" and cast a Black bachelor for its upcoming season, and to cast black, Indigenous and people of colour as at least 35% of contestants for the seasons to come.

James was originally cast as a contestant on the forthcoming season of The Bachelorette starring Clare Crawley, but the show was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said in a statement: "Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare's season. 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."

She continued: "We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we're seeing on-screen 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."

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