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Matt James opened up about being the first African-American bachelor on ABC’s The Bachelor. During an appearance on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, where Arsenio Hall was the guest host, he spoke about the pressures he faced on the dating show.
“It was a lot,” he told Hall. “On both sides, because, you know, my dad’s Black and my mom’s white.”
When Hall asked if he felt pressure to pick a Black contestant he said, “One hundred percent.”
“There was pressure on both sides,” he added. “But ultimately, your heart leads you where love is and that’s what I followed.”
In the end, James picked Rachael Kirkconnell, who later faced backlash for racially insensitive behavior. She was outed for attending a antebellum dance on a plantation, accused of bullying high school classmates for liking Black men and being a member of Kappa Alpha, a fraternity that called racist Confederate general Robert E. Lee a “spiritual founder.”
They parted ways in March but later reunited after Kirkconnell gave him an ultimatum.
“She was like, ‘If you’re going to make this work, let’s do it. But, if you’re not going to make it work, I’m going to let you do your own thing,’” James said on The Pomp podcast. “That’s really all I needed. It was an ultimatum that I needed. It was honestly a commitment that we made to each other that we were going to work on the relationship,” he added. “There came a point in time where it was evident that my working on the relationship looked different than Rachael’s, because I wasn’t really honoring that commitment that I made to working on the relationship.”
He told Hall that he and Kirkconnell are in a great place right now.
“We take things day by day and w and we’re very much in love and very happy right now.”