Days after fans started a petition for ABC to cast their first Black Bachelor the network announced Matt James as the season 25 lead.
According to The Hollywood Reporter the 28-year-old real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organisation founder was originally cast to be a contestant on the upcoming Bachelorette season with Clare Crawley.
However, due to the coronavirus pandemic production of The Bachelorette was shutdown and delayed indefinitely.
Matt is well-known in Bachelor nation as the best friend and roommate of Tyler Cameron a contestant in the 15th season of The Bachelorette with Hannah Brown.
ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said in a statement that Matt has been on their radar since February and when they couldn't move forward as planned with The Bachelorette, they got to know Matt better and agreed that he would make the 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. 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."
Matt's casting comes three years after Rachel Lindsay was cast as the first Black bachelorette.
The 35-year-old congratulated Matt on Twitter. She wrote: "Congrats to Matt James. I am happy to see that a black man was cast after 18 years and 40 seasons. I believe it is a step in the right direction."
Rachel said in a follow up tweet: "I would be remiss to not point out that based on the current climate, it feels like a knee-jerk reaction and a result of societal pressure. This announcement, without any further commitments regarding diversity, sweepingly brushes deeper issues under the rug."
She also called for action to address the 'systemic racism in the franchise' and said she looks forward to hear more about 'additional efforts the franchise plans to make towards change.'
SEE THE TWEETS HERE:
Until we see action to address the systemic racism within the franchise, the casting news today is equivalent to the trend of posting a black box on your social media account without other steps taken to dismantle the systems of injustice.— Rachel Lindsay (@TheRachLindsay) June 12, 2020
I look forward to hearing more about the additional efforts the franchise plans to make towards change.— Rachel Lindsay (@TheRachLindsay) June 12, 2020