The Untold Truth Of Matt James

For years, the people behind The Bachelor have tried to assure viewers that they're committed to diversity. While they made a good, initial step by casting Rachel Lindsay as the first black Bachelorette, on June 12, 2020, they announced that Matt James would be the first black Bachelor after 40 seasons and 18 years of the reality TV franchise. But you might be asking yourself: Who's Matt James?

Set to be the leading man in the middle of the romance that sparks on season 25 of The Bachelor, Matt is a newcomer to the onscreen action, but he's actually not a stranger to the reality TV scene. "Matt has been on our radar since February [2020], when producers first approached him to join Bachelor Nation, as part of Clare [Crawley]'s season [of The Bachelorette]," ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said in a statement (via E! News). 

The statement continued: "When filming couldn't move forward as planned [due to the coronavirus pandemic], we were given the benefit of time to get to know Matt and all agreed he would make a perfect Bachelor."

So, how did he get noticed in the first place? Well, he has a few friends that fans of the franchise will surely recognize.

Matt James is friends with two Bachelor Nation alums

While Matt James may be a new name and face to some people, anyone who follows the stars of Bachelor Nation will likely think that Matt looks familiar. That's because he's best friends with former Bachelorette contestant Tyler Cameron and friends with Tyler's on-again-off-again lady love, former Bachelorette Hannah Brown, which is why you'll often see him pop up in both of their Instagram posts. 

The "two men, who met while attending Wake Forest University, moved in together in New York City in October 2019," according to Us Weekly. However, "[a]mid the coronavirus pandemic ... they moved back to Cameron's hometown of Jupiter, Fla.," where the guys made "headlines for their social media content with their 'quarantine crew,' which included Hannah Brown."

Tyler and Hannah celebrated the news that Matt would be the first black Bachelor. Hannah took to Instagram to post photos and a video of herself and her pal with the caption: "Matt James is the Bachelor. I cannot contain my excitement for this amazing human making history as the first Black Bachelor ... This man is as good as it gets y'all ..."

As for Tyler — who Us notes "has campaigned for his bestie to be the Bachelor since 2019" — he wrote, "Congrats to my brother @mattjames919 on being named the Bachelor. This is all a testament of who you are as a person. ... You can change the world."

Frankly, Tyler thinks so highly of Matt that the two are partners in an important endeavor.

Matt James' resumé is seriously impressive

Are you ready to be impressed? Not only is Matt James handsome — honestly though, my goodness! — he also boasts a resumé which is both praiseworthy and inspiring. Before landing his role as the Bachelor, Matt tackled everything from finances to sports and beyond.

"After graduating from Wake Forest [University] in 2015 with an Economics degree, James tried to make it in the NFL," Us Weekly notes, while explaining that the "wide receiver earned tryouts with the Carolina Panthers and the New Orleans Saints, but didn't make the team." Despite the fact that he wasn't destined to be a football star, you can still get a glimpse of his playing days thanks to his Instagram account. 

After his potential career in sports ended, Matt "scored a job at PNC Bank in Pittsburgh before moving to NYC, where he worked as a research analyst for commercial real estate company CBRE." When Matt isn't at work, he dedicates some of his time to ABC Food Tours, the non-profit organization he runs with Tyler Cameron. According to People, the initiative "takes groups of kids from underserved elementary schools to restaurants in their local communities."

With all of that in mind, it's not hard to see why Matt was chosen as the Bachelor. But what does he think about his history-making reality TV role?

What does Matt James think about being the first black Bachelor?

It's always exciting to find out who the next Bachelor will be, however, the decision to offer Matt James the gig and, in turn, make him the first black man to take on the role means something special to the new reality star. "It's an honor," Matt told Good Morning America following the big announcement. "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 night, they're going to see that I'm not much different from them and they see that diverse love stories are beautiful."

As for The Bachelor's network, ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said in a statement (via E! News), "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." Burke continued, "We feel so privileged to have Matt as our first black Bachelor and we cannot wait to embark on this journey with him."

Matt's honored, ABC is feeling privileged, and fans ... well, they can't quite agree on what to think.

'Bachelor' fans are divided over Matt James' role as the Bachelor

When it was announced in June 2020 that Matt James would be the next — and first black — Bachelor, fans had mixed reactions. "Took you long enough, but this is an excellent choice," one Twitter user told those responsible for the show, then added, "Congrats, Matt." However, not everyone is convinced that Matt was the right choice.

"Happy they picked a black man, but I feel like he's just a clout chaser 100%. So many more deserving men for this opportunity," another person wrote on Twitter. For those who don't know: Back when Matt was supposed to appear on Clare Crawley's season of The Bachelorette, it was suggested that he was showing up "for the wrong reasons," as they say.

On top of that, there were also people who were surprised by the choice due to the fact that many assumed that Bachelor Nation alum Mike Johnson would be the first black Bachelor. "I'm so confused," a fan of the show tweeted. "We ask for @MikeJohnson1_ over & over and, instead they cast Matt (who I only know from following Tyler Cameron) before any of us get a chance to know him or CARE about his season."

While opinions are certainly divided, we can surely all agree that Matt is a buzz-worthy Bachelor.