'The Bachelor' Season 25: Matt James Cast as First Black Male Lead

Meredith Jacobs
Matt James The Bachelor Season 25
ABC/Craig Sjodin

After The Bachelor was called out for the franchise's lack of diversity, ABC has responded by announcing its first black male lead.

On Friday, Matt James, who was set to be one of Clare Crawley's suitors on The Bachelorette, was announced as the star of The Bachelor Season 25 on Good Morning America. Bachelor Nation fans may also recognize him as Tyler Cameron's friend. (Tyler was a finalist on Hannah Brown's season of The Bachelorette.)

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"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," Karey Burke, president, ABC Entertainment said in a statement. "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."

Matt is a 28-year-old real estate broker, entrepreneur, and community organization founder and described as "the total package" with "strong family values." He's also using his platform for good. At Wake Forest University, he majored in economics and was the football team's wide receiver. Originally from North Carolina, he moved to New York City after playing professional football. There, he created an organization that finds creative ways to engage kids from underserved communities, encourage physical and mental wellness, and introduce them to new experiences.

The announcement of Matt's casting comes after members of the Bachelor franchise signed a petition calling for change. Prior to this, there had only been one black lead: Rachel Lindsay in The Bachelorette Season 13.

The Bachelor is hosted by Chris Harrison and produced by Next Entertainment with Warner Horizon Unscripted Television. Mike Fleiss, Martin Hilton, Nicole Woods, Bennett Graebner, Peter Gust, Tim Warner, Louis Caric, and Peter Geist serve as executive producers.

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The Bachelor, Season 25, 2021, ABC