ABC casts first black man in hit dating show The Bachelor

ABC casts first black man in hit dating show The Bachelor
The Bachelor casts a black lead for the first time in its history. Source: CRAIG SJODIN/ABC
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Daily US Times: The Bachelor, ABC’s hugely popular reality series, will feature a black lead for the first time in its history.

ABC announced on Friday that Matt James, a 28-year-old real estate broker, will star in the next season. The announcement came after mounting criticism over a lack of diversity.

The show’s nearly two decade history has seen overwhelmingly white casts, with just one black star in its sister spinoff, The Bachelorette, in 2017.

Mr James called his casting “a step in the right direction”.

“I don’t think it’s ever the wrong time to do the right thing,” he said in an interview with Good Morning America on Friday.

In recent days, th hit dating show has been facing intensified pressure to cast a black lead amid the ongoing racial reckoning in the US, incited by the killing of George Floyd last month.

An online petition signed by more than 86,000 people called for the television network to “reflect and honour the racial diversity of our country” and cast a Black bachelor for its upcoming season, in addition to casting black, indigenous and people of colour in at least 35% of the contestant roles.

Rachel Lindsay, the first and only black star of the Bachelorette, old Good Morning America that she had hoped to be a “trailblazer” for the franchise, and has been disappointed by the lack of progress since. Ms Lindsay is now married to the winning contestant of her season.

She said: “In the last three years there haven’t really been changes made.”

Since it began in 2002, the franchise has aired 40 seasons – 15 of The Bachelorette and 24 of the Bachelor – cultivating a devoted fan following and equally dedicated viewership.

Season 24 of the Bachelor – its most recent season finale which aired in March – had around 8.5 million viewers.

Mr James was originally cast as a contestant on the forthcoming season of The Bachelorette starring Clare Crawley, but the season was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Karey Burke, president of ABC Entertainment, said in a statement: “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.”

Ms Burke said: “We know we have a responsibility to make sure the love stories we’re seeing onscreen are representative of the world we live in.”

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