We haven't even gotten to Clare Crawley's season of The Bachelorette yet, but we already know who's moving into the Bachelor mansion after her. On Friday, June 12, ABC announced their lead for season 25 of The Bachelor well ahead of schedule, but thankfully it's a familiar face for Bachelor Nation. Say hello to the new Bachelor, Matt James, looking for love and making history while doing so!
The 28-year-old real estate broker was initially meant to feature in Crawley's season as one of her contestants, though Bachelor Nation has known him as Tyler Cameron's longtime best friend, roommate, and business partner, for longer. The two of them run the charity ABC Food Tours together, and they're as likely to be spotted goofing off on Instagram as promoting their charity work. Cameron actually predicted James's big role in the Bachelor franchise in 2019 when People asked him who he'd choose to be the next Bachelor. "I can't wait to watch [Matt] next year," he joked. "I know my mom signed him up." Talk about manifesting the future!
"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," ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said in a statement announcing the casting. "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 news of James's casting comes amid cries of the Bachelor franchise's blatant lack of diversity. James will be the first Black Bachelor in its entire 18-year-history, and the second Black lead in the franchise, following Rachel Lindsay, who was season 13's Bachelorette. Lindsay has been among the people demanding that the ABC franchise acknowledge their system is not designed for people of colour and make changes to their production. Fans have even begun a Bachelor Diversity Campaign to hold the beloved franchise accountable for BIPOC representation and antiracism. While James's casting takes care of one huge point (casting a Black lead), the franchise has plenty more actions to take before fans are satisfied.
When asked on Friday's Good Morning America if he thinks his casting marks a turning point for the franchise, James said, "I think it's a step in the right direction. When Rachel speaks, we listen. She has a very important voice in all of this, being the [first Black Bachelorette], so I think we're all following suit in that conversation, and hopefully, this is the first of many Black men to be in the position that I'm at now."