The Bachelor Acknowledges 'Lack of Representation of People of Color': 'We Will Do Better'
The Bachelor franchise is taking steps to fix its diversity issues.
On Friday — after Matt James was named the first black Bachelor in the history of the ABC series — the show's executive producers released a statement acknowledging "the lack of representation of people of color on our franchise" and pledging to "make significant changes."
"We are excited to move forward with both Matt James as the new Bachelor and Clare Crawley as our next Bachelorette. We acknowledge our responsibility for the lack of representation of people of color on our franchise and pledge to make significant changes to address this issue moving forward," reads the statement.
"We are taking positive steps to expand diversity in our cast, in our staff, and most importantly, in the relationships that we show on television," the statement continues.
It concludes: "We can and will do better to reflect the world around us and show all of its beautiful love stories."
On Friday morning, Good Morning America announced James' new history-making role with a statement from ABC, saying they are "privileged to have Matt" as the first black 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," the statement read. "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.”
Rachel Lindsay made history as the first black female lead of the ABC franchise for season 13 of The Bachelorette in 2017.
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James' new role comes after Bachelor Nation called for more diversity in the franchise — rallying around a new petition that called on ABC and executive producer Mike Fleiss to cast more people of color.
The petition, which has garnered more than 84,000 signatures as of Friday morning, called the franchise's lack of diversity "unacceptable" and noted that in 40 seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, Lindsay has been the only black lead. (Mike Johnson was a contender to become the first-ever black Bachelor last season, but Peter Weber, who is half-Cuban, got the gig.)
Prior to being named the new Bachelor, James, 28, was previously cast as one of Clare Crawley's Bachelorette contestants.
Production for Crawley's season was forced to shut down in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Host Chris Harrison explained in March that the cast could be restructured due to the global health crisis.