Matt James was named as the first Black Bachelor today. The announcement comes as Bachelor alumni and fans started a petition to get more diversity on the show. While the timing was perfect for the big reveal, ABC execs are saying this has always been their plan. They say their decision to cast Matt as the lead had nothing to do with the circulating petition.
Bachelor execs planned to cast Matt anyway
E!News shared a statement made by Karey Burke who is the president of ABC Entertainment. She said, “Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season.” She went on to say when filming stopped they got to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor.
Karey continued on talking about the diversity issues. She said, “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.”
Robert Mills also had comments
Many do still feel the timing is a bit suspicious. But, Variety shared what exec Robert Mills had to say about it all. And, Mills says the petition had nothing to do with casting Matt. Mills said, “It wasn’t a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later.” He continued, “Certainly no one is blind to what is happening in the world, so hopefully this announcement serves as a bit of optimism during a time that we can really use this, but I don’t want this to look like we’re patting ourselves on the back or taking a victory lap.”
Mills also said, “Matt was somebody who was on our radar and we were thinking about him.” He went on saying, “We didn’t make a final decision until recently, but this has been talked about for quite some time.”
Mills also knows their decision to cast Matt is just the beginning of changes that need to take place within the franchise.
Rachel Lindsay speaks out about diversity
Amidst all the protests and calls for diversity in the country, Rachel Lindsay has been calling for the same in The Bachelor franchise. In fact, Rachel threatened to leave the franchise for good if things didn’t change soon. Producers heard Rachel and answered.
When Matt was announced as the lead he said, “When Rachel [Lindsay] speaks, we listen.” Matt continued, “this is hopefully the first of many black men to be in the position I’m at now.” He continued, “It’s an honor. I’m just going to lean into myself and how my mom raised me, and hopefully when people invite me into their homes on Monday night… they see that diverse love stories are beautiful.”
Matt has been gaining popularity during quarantine. He is Tyler Cameron’s best friend and also part of the Quarantine Crew. Fans have been enjoying following him on social media. He already has a large fan base.
Mills said since they announced The Bachelor lead early it will give them more time to find the right contestants. Matt’s season won’t premiere until in 2021.
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