Black ExcellenceEntertainment

ABC’s first African American ‘Bachelor’ is a Raleigh native and ex-Wake Forest football player

Matt James is making history on ABC’s “The Bachelor“, a Raleigh native, Sanderson High School graduate and former Wake Forest University football player, is the new “Bachelor” for Season 25 of the ABC show. James is the first Black “Bachelor” selected for the show.

The 28-year-old will become the first Black man to take the lead role in the long-running reality dating and romance reality show.

The naming of Matt James came earlier than usual, since the show usually names the new “Bachelor” leading man at the end of the preceding “Bachelorette” season (and vice versa). Fans are due a new “Bachelorette” season, but filming has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

ABC says James has been on their radar for a while and they call him “the total package,” noting strong family values, a good career and a record of giving back to the community. Local ABC affiliate, ABC11, wrote about James last year, profiling his ABC Food Tours initiative, which helps inner-city kids in New York City have the experience of eating in nice restaurants.

Late last week, Karey Burke, the president of ABC Entertainment, said producers had met with James to be part of the current “Bachelorette” season, and with filming delayed, they got to know him more and agreed he’d be right for “The Bachelor.” “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 said in the release. “This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues in 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.”

Before the previous “Bachelor” season (the Peter Weber season), many fans begged the show to pick Mike Johnson, aka “Big Mike,” a favorite from the Hannah Brown season of “The Bachelorette.” (Mike instead went on “Bachelor in Paradise,” another “Bachelor” franchise spinoff). 

As for when we actually get to see James being the new “Bachelor,” ABC gives us a firm 2021.

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