' The Bachelor' Casts First Black Male Lead, Matt James

He was previously cast as a suitor on Clare Crawley's season of The Bachelorette.

For the first time in Bachelor history, a Black man will be taking on the ABC reality series’ titular role. On Friday, Good Morning America shared the news, announcing that 28-year-old Matt James would be the male lead in season 25 of the series, set to premiere in 2021.

"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," ABC shared in a statement. "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 James Bachelor 2021
ABC/Craig Sjodin

The news follows a call for change from the franchise’s only Black Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsay, as well as a change.org petition that’s netted more than 85,000 signatures.

James was previously cast on Clare Crawley’s season of The Bachelorette, which has been delayed due to the coronavirus. But that’s not James’s only connection to the franchise — he’s also close friends with Bachelorette alum Tyler Cameron.

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