The first black Bachelor is set to give out roses on The Bachelor 2021. Matt James, 28, is the franchise's first Black male lead in its 25th season. James was initially cast as a suitor on The Bachelorette 2020 Clare Crawley's season but is now the star of his own show.
The season's teaser (set to the song "Whatta Man") reveals Matt has never been in love. Here's to another first!
Matt is an African-American real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder from New York City. He's also best friends with Tyler Cameron, the runner-up from The Bachelorette season 15, and was set to appear in Clare's edition.
UPDATE: And since Matt James' season is over, it's onto the next Bachelor. We've got all the news about The Bachelor 2022 with Clayton Echard (opens in new tab) including the Season 26 release date.
However, in March, The Bachelorette 2020 filming was put on hold for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic. Then, in June, ABC announced Matt as the new Bachelor in the wake of worldwide protests against systemic racism and days after Rachel Lindsay, the first black Bachelorette, criticized the show's lack of diversity.
Fans had long been calling on ABC and producers to cast a Black man as The Bachelor and more people of color as contestants. Mike Johnson, a contestant on Hannah Brown's season, was in the running to lead season 24, but Peter Weber was chosen instead.
ABC said, "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."
Here's everything you need to know about The Bachelor 2021.
The Bachelor 2021 release date: When is it coming out?
ABC has set the Bachelor season 25 release date: Monday, Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. ET. As usual, the premiere (and all other episodes) will be two hours long. Episode 2 of The Bachelor airs tonight, Jan. 11.
The Bachelor 2021 teaser trailer
What. A. Man. ABC's first teaser for The Bachelor 2021 shows women literally falling for Matt (one of his contestants trips on her way out of the limo to meet him). But the big shocker: Matt's never been in love!
WHAT. A. MAN. @mattjames919's journey begins January 4 on ABC. pic.twitter.com/bZgAjdskoVNovember 18, 2020
The Bachelor 2021: Who is Matt James?
The first black Bachelor, Matt James, is a 28-year-old a real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder. He is a native of North Carolina and attended 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.
Now living in New York City, James founded ABC Food Tours, an organization that supports kids from underserved communities.
James is close friends with Tyler Cameron, the runner-up on Hannah Brown's Bachelorette season 15, and the two work together to run ABC Food Tours. When he was cast as a contestant on Clare Crawley's season, Bachelor Nation fans immediately made the link. However, filming was delayed due to the pandemic.
James was part of some drama before ever appearing on the show. Crawley seemed to include him when calling out suitors who were only seeking fame.
"If you are doing interviews and creating Cameo accounts before you are even on my season... you are in it for the wrong reasons... #dontwasteyourtime," she tweeted (opens in new tab).
James clarified that he was on the Cameo app to help raise money for coronavirus relief and had pledged all earnings to the Robin Hood Foundation, according to E! Online. (opens in new tab)
Meanwhile, James began gaining a big Bachelor Nation fanbase thanks to TikTok videos and other social media appearances with Cameron and Brown while they were all quarantining together in Florida.
While the selection of James as The Bachelor may seem like a response to the recent upswell in anti-racism calls to action, and Rachel Lindsay's pointed critique, ABC and told Variety (opens in new tab) that they had their eye on James for months.
“He would have been on Clare’s season if it started in March. When we realized the shutdown was going to extend through the summer, we started thinking about how we were going to choose our Bachelor,” said ABC unscripted executive Robert Mills.
“Matt was somebody who was on our radar and we were thinking about him. We were thinking do we announce him early, or do we put him on Clare’s season and then announce him later, if it doesn’t work out with Clare? We didn’t make a final decision until recently, but this has been talked about for quite some time.”
James is the first lead in 29 seasons of both The Bachelor and Bachelorette who wasn't part of a previous season.
The Bachelor 2021 cast
In October, ABC revealed a list of 43 women who may vie for Matt's heart (and roses) on The Bachelor 2021.
Then, in December, the show unveiled the final cast of 32 ladies:
|Abigail Heringer||25||Salem, Oregon||Client Financial Manager|
|Alana Milne||26||San Antonio, Texas||Photographer|
|Alicia Holloway||24||Morgantown, West Virginia||Professional Ballerina|
|Amber Andrews||30||Rialto, California||Nursing Student|
|Anna Redman[||24||Owatonna, Minnesota||Copywriter|
|Bri Springs||24||San Antonio, Texas||Communications Manager|
|Carolyn Vallejo||30||Newburyport, Massachusetts||Journalist|
|Casandra Suarez||25||Lodi, California||Social Worker|
|Chelsea Vaughn||29||Marietta, Georgia||Runway Model|
|Corrinne Jones||22||Pomfret, Connecticut||Marketing Manager|
|Emani Curl||25||Albuquerque, New Mexico||Realtor|
|Illeana Pennetto||25||South Salem, New York||Health Food Developer|
|Jessenia Cruz||27||El Paso, Texas||Social Media Marketer|
|Kaili Anderson||26||Chicago, Illinois||Hostess|
|Katie Thurston||29||Lynnwood, Washington||Bank Marketing Manager|
|Khaylah Epps||28||Durham, North Carolina||Healthcare Advocate|
|Kimberly Courneya[||28||Lake Tapps, Washington||Airline Recruiter|
|Kit Keenan||21||New York City, New York||Fashion Entrepreneur|
|Kristin Hopkins||27||Virginia Beach, Virginia||Attorney|
|Lauren Maddox||29||Miami, Florida||Corporate Attorney|
|Mearg "Magi" Tareke||32||Washington, D.C.||Pharmacist|
|Mariela "Mari" Pepin||24||Severn, Maryland||Marketing Director|
|Marylynn Sienna||28||Huntington Beach, California||Event Coordinator|
|Meredith "MJ" Snyder[||23||Hudson, Ohio||Hairstylist|
|Pieper James||23||Happy Valley, Oregon||Graduate Student|
|Rachael Kirkconnell||24||Cumming, Georgia||Graphic Designer|
|Saneh Ste. Claire||25||St. Augustine, Florida||IT Consultant|
|Sarah Trott||24||San Diego, California||Broadcast Journalist|
|Serena Chew||24||San Bruno, California||Flight Attendant|
|Serena Pitt||22||Markham, Ontario||Publicist|
|Sydney Johnson||28||Franklin, Tennessee||Marketing Specialist|
|Victoria Larson||27||Los Angeles, California||Queen|
But that's not the entire cast! More women will arrive after the premiere episode, according to Chris Harrison. He told Entertainment Tonight, "There will be more than those that arrive, and I can also give you this nugget: one woman who arrives is a very, very familiar face to Bachelor Nation."
The Bachelor 2021 filming
The Bachelor and Bachelorette shows typically go to several U.S. and international locations during the season. However, the pandemic upended that. The Bachelorette 2021 was filmed entirely at La Quinta Resort & Club in California.
The Bachelor 2021 is also filming in a bubble at one location: the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania. The resort is booked from mid-September until November 26, which lines up with production dates.
The Bachelor 2021 spoilers
Bachelor spoilers guru Reality Steve (opens in new tab) has leaked some insider info on Matt's season, including the recipient of the first impression rose. He says it went to Abigail Heringer, 25, of Salem, Mass, who is deaf and wears cochlear implants.
Reality Steve also identified four of five cast members who arrive after the second rose ceremony. They are: Brittany Galvin, a 23-year-old from Chicago, IL; Michelle Young, a 27-year-old from Woodbury, MN; Madison Nelson, a 27-year-old from Granger, IN; and Ryan Claytor, a 25-year-old from Mechanicsville, VA.
Another late entry is made by Heather Martin, a contestant from Colton Underwood's season of The Bachelor.
Matt's best friend, Tyler Cameron, has teased a possible appearance on the season.
"I saw him recently," he said on the Chicks in the Office (opens in new tab) podcast. Since Matt is still filming, a Tyler cameo looks likely.
As of now, Reality Steve has not published a spoiler about who wins The Bachelor 2021.