Matt James was cast as the first Black Bachelor.
ABC executive Rob Mills claims Matt’s casting had nothing to do with people in the Bachelor franchise criticizing the show’s glaring lack of diversity.
Bachelorette Rachel Lindsay is happy for Matt but says more work obviously needs to be done behind the scenes.
Welp, it took a whole petition and many complaints about The Bachelor and The Bachelorette’s blatant lack of diversity for us to see some change, but here we are! It’s official: Matt James—aka Tyler Cameron’s bestie and Clare Crawley’s former Bachelorette contestant—is going to be the star of The Bachelor season 25. And while the timing may be a *little* suspect given the drama in the franchise rn, ABC executive Rob Mills is out here claiming that casting Matt had nothing to do with the show’s diversity issues.
“It wasn’t a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later,” Mills told Variety. “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.”
Let’s be honest: Casting Matt isn’t going to fix everything. But Rob also believes the franchise has lots of room for improvement. “Everyone agrees we can be doing better and we will work to do that,” Rob added. “I do think there have been some strides made—small and maybe not enough, but there has been a commitment and that will continue.”
During Matt’s appearance on Good Morning America after the news dropped, he said the Bachelor franchise is on track in making important changes. “I think it’s a step in the right direction. When Rachel [Lindsay] speaks, we listen,” James said, referring to Rachel’s recent comments about the lack of diversity in the franchise. “She has a very important voice in all this, being the first Black woman, person of color to be a lead, and...this is hopefully the first of many Black men to be in the position I’m at now.”
And while Rachel is somewhat glad Matt was cast as the next Bachelor, she doesn’t want it to stop there. “I want producers of color,” she said on Good Morning America. “I’d like for them to cast leads that are interested in dating outside of their race that aren’t just getting their first-time experience—for the first time—on national TV. I need the acknowledgment of that. Not putting a Band-Aid over the situation and just saying, ‘Here, we’re going to put this here. Are you happy now?’”
Clearly there’s still a lot of work to do in the Bachelor franchise, but Matt’s casting is a great start.
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