Who Is Matt James? Everything To Know About First Black 'Bachelor' In Franchise History

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Who Is Matt James? Everything To Know About First Black 'Bachelor' In Franchise History
Entertainment And News

Some of the best news to come out of California in recent weeks was Governor Newsome's announcement that film and television could resume production. For all the fans of reality TV, that means we can anticipate new episodes of all our favorite shows in the near future.

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One of the shows that will pick back up is The Bachelor. And producers have responded to the national conversations about race and equality by choosing a Black lead to hand out roses for the first time. Matt James, a 28-year-old from New York will be the new Bachelor, after missing out on his shot on The Bachelorette when production halted in March.

Who is Matt James? 

The handsome 28-year-old is a real estate pro in New York City who works with kids in his spare time. But he isn't a random choice for the show: James has been Bachelor-adjacent ever since his bestie Tyler Cameron was one of the hopefuls vying for Hannah Brown's love. The two have quite the bromance going on. They even have their own Instagram hashtag: #myler.

Matt + Tyler = #myler

He was a football hopeful.

Before settling on real estate as his career, James had dreams of playing in the NFL. He had gone to Wake Forest with Cameron, where they were both on the football team. He had tryouts with the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints but was never signed to a team. That's when he took his career in a new direction.

A throwback to his college football days.

James was supposed to be on The Bachelorette.

James was cast on The Bachelorette (Tyler Cameron's mom was the one who nominated him) where he was going to try to impress Clare Crawley. But the pandemic halted production and James was locked down just like the rest of us. "Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’s season," says ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke. 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.” 

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He loves kids.

When James was at Wake Forest, he volunteered with programs to bring food to kids in need. Once he moved to New York, he started his own community service organization called ABC Food Tours to provide diverse culinary experiences to kids in underserved communities.

He believes that the work he does provides great er cultural understanding and teaches kids about the world. "They’re at an age where they’re super-impressionable. No one is born racist or rude; these are all traits that are acquired through influence and experience. If you can positively influence these students at this age, you can potentially change the course of their lives," James said in an interview about his organization. "Also, I love seeing our students try new foods! We went to Blue Ribbon Sushi recently and it was so rewarding watching these 3rd and 4th graders try sushi for the first time. We encourage them to try everything. The kids don’t have to like it but they’re able to speak as to why they do or don’t by the end of a tour."  

He founded a community service organization.

The Bachelor producers chose him mindfully. 

The recent discussions of race and equality made an impact on the production teach at ABC and they realized that all of the men who had previously starred on The Bachelor had been white. While the casts of men competing on The Bachelorette have been gotten more diverse love the years, that hasn't been the case with bachelors. There has only ever been one Black Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, in 2017. Thanks in part to Lindsay speaking out about the need for more diversity at the show, ABC realized it was time to change the casting formula for the show. 

“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," Burke says. "This is just the beginning and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise."

James is happy about being the first Black Bachelor. 

James, who has been outspoken in his support of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations going on right now, is pleased to be part of a spirit of change at the network. "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," he said in an interview.  

The new season of The Bachelor will air sometime in 2021.

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.