After 24 seasons of the hit reality show — and just days after Bachelor Nation launched a petition asking for ABC to cast more diverse contestants and leads — Matt James was announced as the first Black Bachelor on Friday, June 12. The 28-year-old was originally cast as one of the suitors on Clare Crawley's upcoming season of The Bachelorette, which has been postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. It's unclear whether or not Matt will still appear on Clare's season when filming resumes, or when he will begin shooting his season of The Bachelor.
In a press release, ABC also noted that despite the fact that Matt has not yet appeared on The Bachelorette, "much of Bachelor Nation has fallen in love with him already," and that he is the "total package." He's also gotten the seal of approval from former Bachelorette Hannah Brown, who shared her excitement about his casting on her Instagram Story on June 12. "I could literally not be more excited," she said in a video. "Ya'll should be so freaking excited because this is the best human being in the entire world. ... So proud of you Matt James."
However, for those fans who — unlike Hannah — are not yet smitten with the man who will be the first Black Bachelor, here is everything you need to know about Matt James, ahead of his historic season.
He Has An Impressive Resume
According to ABC's press release, Matt is a "real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder," from North Carolina, who now lives in New York City. He attended Wake Forest University, where he majored in economics and played football — which means he's smart and athletic — and even earned a tryout with the Carolina Panthers in 2015. After a brief stint playing pro ball, Matt moved to New York, where he co-founded ABC Food Tours, which works to "find a creative way to engage kids in underserved communities," and offer them new opportunities around the city.
He And Tyler Cameron Are BFFs and Roommates
If Matt seemed familiar to Bachelor Nation even before he was cast on Clare's Bachelorette season, that's probably because he's very close with fan favorite Tyler Cameron. According to People, the pair first met while playing college football together, and have remained close friends and business partners (Tyler is also a co-founder of ABC Food Tours) in the years since. In fact, they're so close that Tyler's late mother is actually the person who submitted Matt to The Bachelorette in the first place, so everyone can thank the Camerons for bringing him to ABC's attention.
He's Proud To Be The First Black Bachelor
After being announced as the new Bachelor, Matt told Good Morning America that it was "an honor" to be chosen as the franchise's first Black male lead. "I'm just going to lean into myself and how my mom raised me, and hopefully when people invite me into their homes on Monday nights... they see that diverse love stories are beautiful," he said.
He also gave credit to The Bachelorette's first Black lead, Rachel Lindsay, for pushing so hard for more diverse casting. "She has a very important voice in all this, being the first black woman, person of color to be a lead," Matt explained, adding that he hopes to follow her lead and be "the first of many black men to be in the position I'm at now."
He Wants His Season To Be Diverse
During the GMA interview, Matt explained that he doesn't want to be the only person of color on his season of The Bachelor. "I'm hoping that when that limo pulls up, there's a lot of diversity and I see every type of woman coming out of that limo," he promised.
He's Still Interested In Meeting Clare
Despite having a chance to fall in love with plenty of eligible women on his own season, Matt hasn't totally given up on the possibility of finding love with the current Bachelorette. "My first reaction was, 'Does this mean I don't get to meet Clare?'" Matt admitted to GMA. He may still get his wish; in May, Chris Harrison told Entertainment Tonight, that "as far as I know, [he'll still be a contestant]. I mean, I have not heard anything different."
He's Already Been Involved In Some Bachelor Drama
Of course, Clare might not be so interested in meeting him. Back in April, the Bachelorette seemed to accuse Matt of being on the show for "the wrong reasons" after he set up a Cameo account to raise money for charity. "If you are doing interviews and creating Cameo accounts before you are even on my season... you are in it for the wrong reasons..." she wrote on Twitter, though she later explained that the tweet was "about MULTIPLE men" who were cast on her season. "Respect the opportunity you’ve been given. Respect the rules. Respect me."
He's Very Family-Oriented
In addition to his close bond with the Cameron family — Matt has been staying with Tyler and his brothers in Florida since February — the new Bachelor often shares photos with his mother, Patty, on Instagram. (On her own Instagram account, Patty's bio proudly describes herself as "Matt James' mom."). In their press release, ABC revealed that Matt "has strong family values, a great career, and over the past few months, he has used his growing platform for good," while the real estate broker has previously talked about how much he loves working with kids.
"They’re at an age where they’re super impressionable. No one is born racist or rude; these are all traits that are acquired through influence and experience," he told DeacLink, according to ET. "If you can positively influence these students at this age, you can potentially change the course of their lives."
He's Looking For Love For "The First Time"
That's right; according to ABC, Matt is looking to fall in love for the very first time. Somehow, this 6'5", handsome, charitable, athletic and smart man has never been in love before. Hopefully he will finally find the woman of his dreams when his season of The Bachelorette finally begins filming.