Matt James all smiles as he heads out of Tuesday apos s dance practice

Matt James Looks Back On 'Bachelor' Journey In New Memoir

Home / Entertainment / Matt James Looks Back On 'Bachelor' Journey In New Memoir

By Taylor Hodgkins on May 3, 2022 at 7:30 PM EDT
Updated on May 11, 2022 at 2:33 PM EDT

First impressions go way beyond the first impression rose within Bachelor Nation!

No one would know that to be true more than Matt James.

James, 30, had accepted the lead role for the 25th season of "The Bachelor" just as the entire landscape of the world changed.

The COVID-19 global pandemic had taken over life as society knew it, affecting every single element of culture, including popular culture.

James' 'Bachelor' experience would not only be unique for being the first to hold the incredibly coveted title during an unprecedented period of time which would have an impact on the entire premise of "The

Bachelor" and the other shows in its bustling franchise, but he would also come to be known as the first Black 'Bachelor' in the franchise's history.

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What Did James Think Of His Landmark Title?

The phone call James received from the powers that be in Bachelor Nation happened in the Summer of 2020, roughly three months since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

James had no idea what was in store for his 'Bachelor' experience and the impact it would have on the franchise.

Preparing for his newfound role would entail having to brace himself to navigate a completely unique situation few would have any experience navigating.

Holding the title of the first Black 'Bachelor' was a role James had to quickly dive into, without having any sort of playbook for guidance.

Speaking of the early days of his 'Bachelor' season, James told Us Weekly, "I wasn't really asking the right questions, or I guess, I didn't think that was something that hadn't been done," he began,

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"It's 2022," he added, I didn't think that that was something we hadn't crossed yet."

James had not known he was going to be the first Black 'Bachelor' lead because he had been aware of other Black contestants being involved within the franchise.

"I've seen a bunch of Black people come through the franchise that I guessed I assumed... [the role had been filled before.]"

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 Realizing The Impact Of James' 'Bachelor' Title

The aftermath of James filling the shoes of the first Black 'Bachelor' role had quite the impact on him and had put him in a position where he would be completely transformed by his position.

James had gone into Bachelor Nation with the same intentions many other contestants do.

"My sole focus was finding someone that I could spend the rest of my life with and fall in love with, and just looking for that in my life because I was missing it," he said.

The specific cultural happenings at the time also helped him make sense of his historic position.

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Discussing why there had not been a black 'Bachelor' contestant until his season, (Rachel Lindsay had been the first Black 'Bachelorette' in 2017), James reflected, "They hadn't because it was at the right time in the country where we were going through everything that we were going through from a racial standpoint..."

2020 was also marked by the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement following the several instances of

unjust police brutality against Black people in America, notably the murder of George Floyd in May, 2020.

Bachelor Nation was then given a choice: How would the historically white franchise choose to adapt to the current cultural climate?

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Navigating Important Lessons In Love

Attempting to answer that question would be a scenario James would find himself being confronted with during his time as the series' lead.

Enter Rachael Kirkconnell, a contestant from Georgia, who had charmed James early on in the season.

The couple hit it off and were seemingly moving forward through the season swiftly, until old photos of Kirkconnell "at an antebellum South-themed party surfaced on social media," as per an NPR report published at the time.

Kirkconnell and James had split up briefly following the incident.

James went on to explain to Us Weekly how the former couple were able to navigate the turbulent chapter within their relationship.

"We spent enough time talking about that stuff," he said. "I hate beating a dead horse and everything's played out how it's played out and there's no need [to] go back to something that we've talked so much

about because unfortunately, those types of conversations overshadowed context I would have liked to have been applied to the season that would've answered a bunch of questions..."

James went on to explain how he would have preferred to "Focus on themes that I felt could really help people and I don't think going back on that would be any help to anybody," he explained.

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Where James Is Now

Two years after his 'Bachelor' season, James is thriving.

"I couldn't be better," he said. "I'm healthy, which is the biggest blessing, and I'm in a great headspace..."

A great 'reality' for a reality TV star!

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