ABC Casts Matt James as Its First Black Male Lead on ‘The Bachelor’

We may not have Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette just yet, but we already have our new Bachelor—Matt James. 

That’s right, ABC announced the 28-year-old as season 25’s leading man on Friday’s episode of Good Morning America. Most importantly, James marks the franchise's first-ever Black male lead.  

“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 Friday. "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 comes just days after a petition (which has gained more than 84,000 signatures) calling for more diversity on the show began circulating. Back in 2017, Rachel Lindsay (who also made an appearance on the GMA segment) made history as the first Black female lead, and until now, only Black lead of the hit series. And that’s over 40 seasons of the show. 

If James looks familiar it’s because he is. He was actually cast as a contestant for Crawley’s upcoming season of the Bachelorette, which halted production due to the coronavirus pandemic. So, while nothing has been confirmed, we’re assuming he’s no longer in the running for the 39-year-old’s heart. He also spent time quarantining (and making TikTok videos) in Florida with his close friends Tyler Cameron and Hannah Brown.

Not too many details have been released about season 25 of The Bachelor, however, it’s scheduled to premiere in 2021.

Congrats, Matt!