Life after the final rose proved more difficult than expected. Matt JamesHowever, the former Bachelor is willing to share his side in his new book.First Impressions: Conversations off-screen with a Bachelor about Race, Family, And Forgiveness
“It’s been such a crazy journey to that point,” the 30-year-old former reality TV star said on Us Weekly’s “Here for the Right Reasons” podcast ahead of the memoir’s Tuesday, May 3, release. “I couldn’t be better. I’m healthy, which is the biggest blessing, and I’m in a great headspace. I’m in a great relationship. I recently moved down to Miami and it’s allowed me to reallocate my time, energy and resources on things that are most important to my life.”
James was officially introduced to Bachelor Nation when his season debuted on January 2021. He made history as the first Black Bachelor — something he wasn’t aware of when he accepted the gig in June 2020 — and for being one of the only leads that had never been part of the franchise. (While he was set for competition on Clare Crawley’s season 16 of The BacheloretteIn 2020, production was stopped due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I wasn’t really asking the right questions or, I guess, I didn’t think that was something that hadn’t been done. It’s 2022, I didn’t think that that was something that we hadn’t crossed yet,” James told Us of admitting he didn’t know he was the first Black male lead in the show’s decades-long history. “I’ve seen a bunch of Black people come through the franchise that I guess I assumed [there had been a Black Bachelor].”
James lived with Bachelorette alums. Tyler Cameron in Florida when ABC reached out to him weeks after Crawley’s season was put on hold.
“Initially, I thought it was a prank call because it was in the middle of COVID and I was living in a quarantine house with all my friends, and we were all just messing around at the time,” he recalled to Use. “So when you got calls like that, you kind of took it with a grain of salt. You’re like, ‘All right, whatever.’ And then when they follow it up, I’m like, ‘Oh, snap.’”
James discovered the historic nature of the Bachelor’s season just days after he accepted the role.
“I didn’t accept the role to be the savior. 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,” James told Us. “And it wasn’t until after I accepted it that I really felt the weight of, you know, everyone’s expectations on my journey. And I’m like, ‘I wonder if anyone else has felt this stepping into a role like this.’ And 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 — [and]They are still going through. It was a realization that I had been waiting for. [of]Days after or as close to the time as possible [to film]The show, like, people telling my what to do and what to do. And I’m like, ‘I hadn’t even got there yet. What are y’all talking about?’”
James won the final battle. Rachael KirkconnellHowever, their relationship was marred by scandal after photos of her at a Rose Ball Formal at a college plantation were resurfaced. After longtime host Chris Harrison asked for “grace” for Kirkconnell while the season was airing, he came under fire and ABC cut ties with him. James discusses his reaction to the controversy and explains how he and the Georgian native reconciled. However, he didn’t mention the Harrison drama.
“We spent enough time talking about that stuff. 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 type of conversations overshadowed context that I would’ve liked to have been applied to the season that would’ve answered a bunch of questions,” James told Us. “They had things that I talked about and discussed and went into in-depth in my dates and on group dates and on one-on-ones that never aired. So I didn’t wanna take any more time to talk about that stuff. I wanted to focus on themes that I felt could really help people and I don’t think that going back on that would be any help to anybody.”
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