'The Bachelor' makes history with Matt James

BySandy Kenyon OTRC logo
Monday, January 4, 2021
Making history: Meet the1st Black man to take the lead on 'The Bachelor'
Sandy Kenyon reports on "The Bachelor" Matt James.

NEW YORK -- "The Bachelor" makes history when Matt James takes center stage looking for love, as the 29-year-old is the first Black man to appear as the lead in the long-running show.

The former NFL prospect, originally from North Carolina, now lives in New York City.

James is friendly, frank, and candid when discussing the challenges he faced during a season of "The Bachelor" unlike any other.

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"My mom is white and my dad is Black," he tells host Chris Harrison during the first episode. "I experienced what it is like to be the product of an interracial marriage, and it's tough."

"Burden" is not a word that's normally associated with the show, but in 18 years, the lead guy has never looked like James.

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"(Matt) is very cognizant of the fact he's the first Black Bachelor," Harrison said. "There's a lot of pressure, and we're going to talk about that on night one."

James is heard wondering how he can please everyone, and he says he found the answer to his own question.

"The answer is I can't, and the more comfortable I got with that, the more comfortable I got letting my walls down with these women," he said. "You know, I can't please everybody."

Watch Matt James interview with "Good Morning America":

The new "Bachelor" Matt James speaks on "Good Morning America" about becoming the first Black man in the role.

Trying to find love on TV in front of millions of people is never easy, and add COVID-19 restrictions, and the degree of difficulty increases. James, however, took it all in stride.

"To be honest, there weren't a lot of challenges because we were in a bubble," he said. "No one in, no one out, and we were being tested constantly. So it' the safest I've felt, you know."

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And James is a rookie: He's the first Bachelor in a dozen years who has never appeared on any other shows in this franchise.

"Mike Tyson said best," he said. "'Everyone's got a plan until they get punched in the nose,' and that first night, that's how I felt."

The season was filmed at a resort in Pennsylvania, located about six hours by car from James' home in New York City. He started a local charity there called ABC Food Tours with Tyler Cameron, a former contestant on "The Bachelorette."

It takes kids in underserved communities to local restaurants to help them lead more active lifestyles.

He does not shy away from injustices wherever he finds them.

"Because that's who I am," he said. "I'm a Black man, and when I see something that's going in my community, and I have a voice, I want to be part of that change, and I want to be on the right side of history."