After a few days of saying very little, the executive producers behind The Bachelor are acknowledging the work they need to do.
In a joint statement posted to the Bachelor Nation website, the EPs, including host Chris Harrison, pledge to make "significant changes" to address the franchise's problems.
"We are excited to move forward with both Matt James as the new Bachelor and Clare Crawley as our next Bachelorette. We acknowledge our responsibility for the lack of representation of people of color on our franchise and pledge to make significant changes to address this issue moving forward. We are taking positive steps to expand diversity in our cast, in our staff, and most importantly, in the relationships that we show on television. We can and will do better to reflect the world around us and show all of its beautiful love stories."
Matt James, who was originally cast as a contestant for Clare's season before it got delayed, was announced as the next Bachelor this morning, making him the first Black male lead in the franchise's history. The 39 year-old Clare will also make history as the oldest Bachelorette.
On Monday, a petition was launched to call for more diversity and more support for BIPOC in the franchise, and had nearly 90,000 signatures by Friday.
The petition featured 13 calls to action, starting with a demand to cast a Black lead for season 25 of The Bachelor. Until the announcement that Matt had been cast early Friday morning, ABC, Warner Bros, Chris Harrison, and creator Mike Fleiss had not yet acknowledged the petition or criticism from Rachel Lindsay, the only other Black lead in the show's history.
ABC executives have been making statements about the show's lack of diversity for years, but this is the first statement the show has made of this kind.
The show plans to resume filming for Clare Crawley's season of The Bachelorette this summer, followed by filming for Matt's season of The Bachelor.