The first black Bachelor is set to give out roses on The Bachelor 2021. Matt James, 28, will be 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 will now be the star of his own show. In a brand-new teaser (set to the song "Whatta Man"), Matt reveals he's never been in love. Here's to a 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.
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?
If the Bachelor season 25 follows the timing of previous Bachelor seasons, it will premiere in January 2021. Host Chris Harrison told Entertainment Weekly that producers hope to keep to that schedule.
In late September, Matt left to begin filming at Nemacolin Woodlands Resorts in Pennsylvania and production looks like it'll last until late November. That's a very tight turnaround for a January premiere, so it seems more likely that The Bachelor 2021 would start airing in February.
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.
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.
Meanwhile, James 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 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.
The potential contestants are mostly in their 20s, with the youngest just 21. Not much else is known about them, but ABC did include their photos.
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 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.
Matt's best friend, Tyler Cameron, recently teased a possible appearance on the season.
"I saw him recently," he said on the Chicks in the Office podcast. Since Matt is still filming, a Tyler cameo looks likely.