Earlier this month, ABC announced Matt James as the first ever Black male lead in Bachelor Nation history. The exciting news came after Rachel Lindsay, the first Black female lead on The Bachelorette, and fans of the long running reality dating show called on ABC to diversify The Bachelor and The Bachelorette both in front of and behind the camera.
"Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare's season," ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said in a statement about James' casting. "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."
Burke also addressed the calls for more diversity on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette in the statement, as well, writing: "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."
In a new interview with James, as well his best friend and fellow Bachelor Nation alum Tyler Cameron, the next Bachelor spoke about his excitement to bring more diverse love stories to the small screen. "I've heard from a lot of my Black friends that aren't Bachelor Nation faithful that are excited about me and honored that I'm in the position I'm in," James told Bachelor host Chris Harrison. "And have this opportunity to just represent what it's going to look like to have diverse relationships and tell those love stories. And I couldn't be more excited about that."
Following James' casting, Bachelor producers released a joint statement vowing to do better in the future. “We are excited to move forward with both Matt James as the new Bachelor and Clare Crawley as our next Bachelorette," the statement reads. “We acknowledge our responsibility for the lack of representation of people of color on our franchise and pledge to make significant changes to address this issue moving forward."
Though the statement didn't go into specifics about their plans, the producers promised they "are taking positive steps to expand diversity in our cast, in our staff, and most importantly, in the relationships that we show on television." They signed off by telling their viewers that they "can and will do better to reflect the world around us and show all of its beautiful love stories.”