Matt James has been announced as the new star of The Bachelor!
The ABC series shared the news with fans on Friday, making James the first Black male lead on the series. James was originally cast on Clare Crawley's season of The Bachelorette just months ago, but production was put on hold due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
"It's official...your next Bachelor is @mattjames919!" the Bachelor Twitter account shared.
James' casting on the series comes after a campaign was launched urging The Bachelor to cast a Black male lead. In 2017, Rachel Lindsay made history on The Bachelorette as the first, and until now, only Black lead of the series.
James, a 28-year-old real estate broker, appeared on Good Morning America on Friday to speak about the news, calling his casting on the show, "A step in the right direction."
GMA also had Lindsay on the show and she addressed the lack of diversity in Bachelor Nation history.
"When Rachel speaks, we listen," James said. "She has a very important voice in all of this being the first Black woman, person of color, to have a lead. So, I think that we're all following suit in that conversation and this is hopefully the first of many Black men to be in this position that I'm in now."
When asked if his casting on The Bachelor feels "too little too late," James replied, "I don't think it's ever the wrong time to do the right thing. Too little too late for me is this happening and we can't have change until we put that first foot forward, and that first forward for The Bachelor franchise is having a black lead. So, I'm excited to take on that role."
As James shared, the news was so much of a secret, his mom didn't even know until today!
"She's going to be excited," said James, who is a close friend of Bachelor Nation's Tyler Cameron. "I'm sorry mom, but it's hard for her to keep a secret, so I had to keep it super tight. She's just now finding out, which is kind of a fun way for everyone to participate."
When asked about his reaction to getting the call, James shared, "My first reaction was, does this mean I don't get to meet Clare? Because I was looking forward to meeting her. I had set aside all this time, we had gone out to California and then called back with quarantine. So, I'm super excited for her and her season, but I'm looking forward to meeting her eventually."
Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, spoke out about James' casting on Friday, sharing, "Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare's season. When filming couldn't move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect 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," the statement continued. "This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on 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."
Season 25 of The Bachelor is scheduled to premiere in 2021.