The 28-year-old James, who was named a contestant on Clare Crawley's upcoming Bachelorette season that was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic was announced on Good Morning America as the star of The Bachelor Season 25, making him the show's first black lead and second minority Bachelor overall after Juan Pablo Galavis. “It’s an honor," says James, who won't be competing on The Bachelorette, adding: "My first reaction was, ‘Does this mean I don’t get to meet Clare?,’ because I was looking forward to meeting her." James adds: “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.” James is best friends, business partners and roommates with fan-favorite Bachelorette alum Tyler Cameron. Because of that connection, James has already garnered a massive fan base among Bachelor Nation. James made headlines in April when Crawley appeared to call him out for being on The Bachelorette for the "wrong reasons." Despite recent mounting pressure from Rachel Lindsay, the first black Bachelorette, and a recent petition to name a black Bachelor, ABC insists it was interested in James before the recent racial reckoning brought on by the police custody death of George Floyd. “Matt was somebody who was on our radar and we were thinking about him," ABC reality boss Robert Mills tells Variety. "We were thinking do we announce him early, or do we put him on Clare’s season and then announce him later, if it doesn’t work out with Clare? We didn’t make a final decision until recently, but this has been talked about for quite some time.” Asked whether Lindsay's criticism had anything to do with James' selection, Mills says: "It wasn’t a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later. Certainly no one is blind to what is happening in the world, so hopefully this announcement serves as a bit of optimism during a time that we can really use this, but I don’t want this to look like we’re patting ourselves on the back or taking a victory lap. We don’t want this, in any way, to seem like a cure-all and seem like, ‘Hey! Look what we did here!’ We know this is a few grains of sand in a very big hourglass. It’s taken a while to get where we are and we will continue to go further, and I acknowledge it may not be enough. In the last few years, I believe it’s gotten better and with the announcement of Matt, I hope it keeps getting better. We are very excited about Matt.” Mills adds that ABC made it clear to James that he wasn't selected to become the first black Bachelor. "What you never want is for somebody to feel like they are The Bachelor because they are checking off a box," he says. As for why it took nearly two decades for The Bachelor to name its first black lead, Mills is making no excuses. “There are a lot of different ways I can answer that, but it always rings false because honestly, I think we should have, and everyone agrees we should have had a Bachelor of color before this time,” Mills says.