Matt James will be the first black man to take a lead role on ABC’s “The Bachelor,” the network announced Friday.

What’s going on:

  • James, 28, will be the first black man to take the lead role after 40 seasons, making history for the reality television franchise.
  • James was originally set to appear on “The Bachelorette” as one of the men who could be chosen to date lead Clare Crawley. Production for the show was suspended over the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • “The Bachelorette” — a sister series to “Bachelor” — has had one black lead with Rachel Lindsay in the role for the program in the 2017 season.
  • ABC President Karey Burke said in a release: “Matt has been on our radar since February, when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare’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. 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.”

Some extra context

  • ABC’s decision to name a black lead for “The Bachelor” came after the show’s community called for more diverse contestants, which came amid nationwide protests over racial injustice and police brutality, as I reported for the Deseret News.
  • “Bachelor” fans launched the Bachelor Diversity campaign on Monday, which called for the ABC show to more “consistently cast BIPOC (black, indigenous and people of color),” according to USA Today.
  • The group said: “Representation matters, and it is one of the most important ways our country can embrace its diversity and evolve. We will use our power as viewers and fans to hold ABC and Warner Bros. accountable and demand they use their platform in a more thoughtful, race-conscious, and socially responsible way. It’s time that ABC, Mike Fleiss, and Warner Bros. take demonstrable action to address the inequalities in casting, screen time, and employment of minority groups.”