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ABC Names Matt James as the First Black 'Bachelor' for 2021's Season 25!

The Bachelor has its first Black lead!

Matt James has been selected as the show’s first-ever Black Bachelor, ABC announced on Friday (June 12).

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Matt James

Matt James is a 28-year-old real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder, and is best known to Bachelor Nation as a friend to Tyler Cameron, and competed on Hannah Brown’s season of The Bachelorette. He was also set to compete on The Bachelorette with Clare Crawley, but that was halted amid the pandemic, so ABC thought of a bigger role for Matt.

The news comes as former Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay put the franchise on blast for not having a Black Bachelor lead in the show’s nearly two decade run since 2002.

Here’s more information about Matt, via THR: “[Matt] James, a North Carolina native who played football at Wake Forest, had a short run in the NFL and now lives in New York City where he and [Tyler] Cameron run ABC Food Tours, an organization that offers kids from underserved communities the opportunity to explore the city through food, exercise and mental and physical wellness. He is the first Bachelor since 2008′s Matt Grant to be cast as the lead without having appeared as a contestant on The Bachelorette.”

“He would have been on Clare’s season if it started in March. When we realized the shutdown was going to extend through the summer, we started thinking about how we were going to choose our Bachelor. Matt was somebody who was on our radar and we were thinking about him. We were thinking do we announce him early, or do we put him on Clare’s season and then announce him later, if it doesn’t work out with Clare? We didn’t make a final decision until recently, but this has been talked about for quite some time, said ABC’s Rob Mills.

He also denied that casting Matt was a response to criticism.

“It wasn’t a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later. 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. We don’t want this, in any way, to seem like a cure-all and seem like, ‘Hey! Look what we did here!’ We know this is a few grains of sand in a very big hourglass. It’s taken a while to get where we are and we will continue to go further, and I acknowledge it may not be enough. In the last few years, I believe it’s gotten better and with the announcement of Matt, I hope it keeps getting better. We are very excited about Matt.”

The Bachelor is scheduled to return in 2021.

Find out what Rachel Lindsay said about the show’s lack of diversity…

matt james

Former 'Bachelor' Contestant Speaks Out About Franchise's Diversity Issue

Seinne Fleming is addressing The Bachelor‘s diversity issue.

Seinne, who appeared on season 22 of the franchise, believes that the franchise is “isolating” viewers because of its lack of diversity.

She expressed that “by not having a more diverse cast, by not having more Asians or Hispanics or Black people, you’re isolating a part of the country that would be interested in the show if they felt more represented.”

“You can just see by the Instagram followers, if you’re a Black cast member versus if you’re a white cast member you have significantly fewer Instagram followers,” Seinne shared E! News. “That’s because of the audience and the people that are watching.”

Seinne admitted that before her time on the show she wasn’t a “huge fan” but was drawn in when they cast Rachel Lindsay as the first black Bachelorette.

“That was one of the main reasons why I ended up auditioning for the show because I thought, ‘Oh okay, well maybe they are kind of maybe changing things up, making things a little more inclusive. I quickly learned that was not the case,” Seinne said.

Since Rachel‘s appeared as The Bachelorette in 2017, the show has not cast a black woman or a woman of color as its lead.

“Even during my time on the show,” Seinne added, “I was the only woman of color in the top 10 so in many ways it feels like you fill a slot… I don’t really watch [the show anymore] because I don’t feel like it is very inclusive.”

Earlier this week, fans started a petition to get ABC to cast a black lead as The Bachelor for season 25.

Rachel Lindsay 'Definitely Asked' About Why Mike Johnson Wasn't Chosen As 'Bachelor'

Like many of us, Rachel Lindsay was upset that Mike Johnson was passed over for Peter Weber to lead season 24 of The Bachelor.

Speaking with ET, Rachel revealed that she “definitely asked” for a reason of why he was passed over.

“I was extremely vocal about Mike Johnson and how he checked all the boxes and it doesn’t make sense why he is not the lead,” Rachel added. “And it even seemed as if the audience wanted him. The audience was not into Peter.”

She also doesn’t believe that the reason Mike wasn’t chosen is because he is black.

“I was told there was a reason. What that reason may be, I don’t know,” she added. “I wasn’t given a specific answer. Maybe they can’t specifically tell me why they didn’t choose him. I think if they could tell us, they would, because it just looks so bad that they didn’t pick him.”

“I mean, Michael Johnson was a gift. To me, it was an easy decision, but I’m not in the decision room,” Rachel said. “They do all kinds of background checks and vet things out. I have no idea what the reason was, but they have it. I’m told they have a reason, because I was definitely up in arms when I found out it wasn’t going to be him.”

Rachel spoke up about how upset she was he wasn’t cast late last year, as well.

Bachelor Nation Is Backing a Petition for ABC to Cast a Black Bachelor for Season 25

The stars of Bachelor Nation and many fans are campaigning for ABC to cast a black man as the star of The Bachelor‘s 25th season.

The Bachelor has never had a black lead throughout the past 24 seasons and out of 16 seasons of The Bachelorette, including the upcoming installment, there has only been one black lead – Rachel Lindsay.

The petition also calls for ABC to cast BIPOC for at least 35% of contestants each season hereafter, to give equitable screen time to BIPOC contestants, to actively support BIPOC cast, to equitably compensate and hire more BIPOC employees in all parts of production, casting, and filming, and more.

Some of the Bachelor Nation stars who have shared the petition include Rachel, Tyler Cameron, Nick Viall, Bibiana Julian, Olivia Caridi, Jubilee Sharpe, Seinne Fleming, Ashley Spivey, and more.

You can sign the petition now at Change.org.

Rachel has also called out the whitewashing of The Bachelor franchise and says she will not participate in future editions if this continues.

Colton Underwood Makes Joke About 'Bachelor' Breakups & Fans Say 'Too Soon'

Colton Underwood is joking about breakups in Bachelor Nation, including his recent split from Cassie Randolph, and fans think its too soon!

The joke happened after Sean Lowe promoted his episode of The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons Ever.

The new series is recapping some of the best seasons of The Bachelor, starting with Sean‘s season in which he got engaged to now-wife Catherine Giudici.

“Tomorrow night, my entire season is airing in a condensed 3 hour format for Bachelor G.O.A.T. Really excited to share my journey with you all,” Sean wrote on Instagram. “Also excited to get that 15 minutes of fame back I’ve been desperately searching for for the past seven years. No spoilers please.”

Colton commented on the pic, “Hopefully you are still with her!”

Colton and Cassie just announced their split nine days ago and fans replied to his commented by saying it was “too soon” to joke about their breakup.

Read the full statement that was released by Cassie and Colton when they announced their breakup.

The Bachelor's Catherine Giudici Says She Thinks She Was Cast On The Show To 'Check A Box'

Catherine Giudici is opening up about her time on The Bachelor and admits that she has always felt she was cast on the show to check a box to bring some diversity to the series.

The 34-year-old graphic designer shared a post on Instagram with her fans opening up about her experience on the show.

“When I was originally cast, I was very flattered but somewhat grounded by the fact that I would be one of the faces that represented people of color. I knew that one of the reasons I was probably chosen was because I was Filipino,” she wrote.

Catherine continued, “I thought I was there just to check a box, but I ended up with so much more…I became present with the process and as he [now husband Sean Lowe] started noticing me for who I really was, I allowed this experience to open myself up to the possibility of being fully loved and appreciated for all that I was.”

“I ended up getting to represent a mixed race community, I found Christ (I LOVE my testimony!) and marrying the most amazing man I’ve ever known. I’d say doing this show was one of the best things that ever happened to me.❤️”

Catherine, who is of Filipino and European descent, is still married to Sean and they have three children together, Samuel, Isaiah and Mia.

Find out which other Bachelor couples are still together…

'Bachelorette' Rachel Lindsay Calls Out the 'Very White-Washed' Franchise: 'It's Ridiculous'

Rachel Lindsay is speaking out about the lack of diversity in the Bachelor franchise.

The 35-year-old former Bachelorette, and still the only black lead since its debut in 2002, is demanding change amid protests globally against systemic racism and police brutality.

PHOTOS: Check out the latest pics of Rachel Lindsay

“I can’t. I have to see some type of change. It’s ridiculous. It’s embarrassing. At this point, it’s embarrassing to be affiliated with it,” she said via an Us Weekly preview of the latest episode of AfterBuzz TV’s Bachelor A.M. With Kelsey Meyer, premiering at 3 p.m. ET.

“In 40 seasons, you’ve had one black lead. We have had 45 presidents and in 45 presidents, you have one black president. You are almost on par to say you’re more likely to become the president of the United States than you are a black lead in this franchise. That’s insane. That’s ridiculous,” she continued.

“It bothers me that certain things have happened that we just say, ‘Oh, hush hush,’ and ‘Let’s just move on past it.’ No! We need to acknowledge it, because what you’re doing is perpetuating this type of behavior, you’re continuing to.”

“I don’t know how you are a part of The Bachelor franchise and you’re watching what’s happening in our country right now and you don’t self reflect that you’ve been part of the problem. You continue to perpetuate this type of behavior when you’re putting out something that is very white-washed and doesn’t have any type of color in it and you’re not trying to be effective and change that so I think that they have to, at this point, give us a black Bachelor for season 25. You have to. I don’t know how you don’t.”

Here are ways you can help to support the Black Lives Matter cause.