Matt James on His Black Friends' Reaction to Him Being 'The Bachelor'

Matt James - Bachelor headshot
ABC/Craig Sjodin

Matt James knows he's breaking new ground as the first Black Bachelor. The 28-year-old popped in during Monday's episode of The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons -- Ever! to share a little about how life has changed since he was announced as the Bachelor franchise's first Black male lead earlier this month. 

As James told Chris Harrison, the support he's gotten from his Black friends has been particularly important. "I've heard from a lot of my Black friends that aren't Bachelor Nation faithful that are excited about me and honored by the position I'm in," James said, adding they're thrilled he has "this opportunity to just represent what it's going to look like to have diverse relationships and tell those love stories." "I couldn't be more excited about that," he shared. 

"My phone's been off the hook. The most interesting text that I got was probably from my third grade teacher, and I hadn't heard from her since I missed my book report," he joked. "So, there's people coming from all over the place to share their excitement. And it's been nice." 

Before James joined the Zoom call with Harrison, his best friend, Bachelorette alum Tyler Cameron, chatted with the Bachelor host about what he can expect from James' season. 

"Matt's built for this, he's a great person. His heart will really show and shine, and it will be interesting to see where his heart leads him," he said of James, who "took me under his wing" during his first year of college at Wake Forest University. 

"You're in for a lot of food. You're in for getting woken up early, Chris, and working out an obscene amount," Cameron added. "This will probably be the best shape you've been in on a season, Chris."

James' season of The Bachelor is expected to film this fall, and air in early 2021. The Bachelor franchise's first Black female lead, Rachel Lindsay, said that she didn't watch The Bachelor before she appeared on Nick Viall's season. 

"It is not because I am not a fan of reality television... It is because Black people know historically and presently that the show is not formatted for their success," she explained on her blog earlier this month. "Despite this fact, my co-workers thought I would be the one to go far, and so I said 'why not?' The Bachelor was a fun and fulfilling experience for me. It opened my eyes to many new things, I traveled the world, and established new friendships."

"When I was asked to be the Bachelorette, I knew this was asking something completely different from me. I ultimately decided to be the Bachelorette because I knew this opportunity was bigger than me. I knew that I wanted to present myself to an audience that had not seen a lead of color in this role. I knew that I wanted to be a trailblazer in this franchise to diversify the lead role, to diversify the contestants trying out and casted for the show, and to diversify the audience watching this show," she added. 

The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons -- Ever! airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC. See what Lindsay told ET about the changes she'd like to see in the Bachelor franchise in the video below. 


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