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Say hello to Matt James, the first black star of 'The Bachelor'

ABC/Craig Sjodin

Matt James will be the next guy looking for love on The Bachelor — and for the first time in the show’s 18 years, the guy with the roses is an African American. 

James was revealed this morning on ABC’s Good Morning America.  The 28-year-old is a real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder, who was originally cast as a suitor on Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette, production of which has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Crawley’s search for love on The Bachelorette will now air this fall, before James makes his debut as the new Bachelor.

“My first reaction was, ‘Does this mean I don’t get to meet Clare?,’ because I was looking forward to meeting her,” James joked Friday on GMA.

James, a North Carolina native, is an alum of Wake Forest University, where he majored in economics and played wide receiver for the school’s football team. He then went on to play football professionally before moving to New York City.  He also founded ABC Food Tours, an organization devoted to serving children from underserved communities in New York City.

Prior to the announcement of James as the new Bachelor, fans and former stars of the series have called out the show’s lack of representation on social media. Former The Bachelorette star Rachel Lindsay — the only black person in 40 seasons of The Bachelor franchises to ever have one season devoted to her — has been a vocal critic of the show since appearing on it three years ago, and has said on her website that it’s long past due for a “diversity makeover.”

James reacted to Lindsay’s comments by calling her an “important voice” on the issue. He described his pick as the new Bachelor as a “step in the right direction.”

By Angeline Jane Bernabe , Dominick Proto , Cameron Harrison, Mya Green, and Stephen Iervolino
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