The 28-year-old will become the first black man to take the lead role in the long-running reality dating show, the network announced Friday. Over 40 seasons of "Bachelor," and its sister series "The Bachelorette," only one black person has held the title role – Rachel Lindsay, who led "Bachelorette" in the 2017 season.
James was originally intended as a suitor for the upcoming season of "The Bachelorette," in which Clare Crawley will lead. But "Bachelorette" suspended production due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"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," ABC President Karey Burke said in a news release. "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. This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise."
James is a good friend of Bachelor Nation (as fans of the series are known) favorite Tyler Cameron, the runner up from Hannah Brown's "Bachelorette" season. He was part of Quarantine Crew on TikTok, which featured videos of Brown, Cameron and James.