LOS ANGELES — For the first time in its 25 season history, ABC's "The Bachelor" announced a black man will lead the show.
The franchise made the announcement on Friday saying Matt James is the "total package" for the romance reality TV show.
James, 28, an estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder was originally cast as a suiter on a season of "The Bachelorette" during Clare Crawley’s season.
“When filming couldn’t move forward as planned, we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor," said Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment. "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."
James is a North Carolina native who went to Wake Forest University, where he majored in economics and played wide receiver for the football team. He went on to play professional football, before moving to New York City, where he now lives.
ABC said season 25 of “The Bachelor” is scheduled to premiere in 2021.
Before the announcement was made, a Change.org petition, with more than 85,000 signatures, called for the Bachelor Franchise to cast a black bachelor as a lead of season 25 to help combat racism.
"This is just the beginning, and we will continue to take action with regard to diversity issues on this franchise," Burke added. "We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first Black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him.”