'The Bachelor' Star Matt James Says He Felt Pressured To Pick A Black Woman
James, whose parents were in an interracial relationship, said there was pressure from "both sides."
October 01, 2021 at 1:21 pm
James, who is now a contestant on Dancing With The Stars, made the revelation after guest host Arsenio Hall asked him about the pressure of being the show’s first Black bachelor.
“It was a lot on both sides, because, you know, my dad’s Black and my mom’s white,” James said.
Arsenio then asked if there was pressure "to pick a Black girl."
"One-hundred percent," the 29-year-old said. “But ultimately, your heart leads you where love is and that’s what I followed.”
James found himself in controversy earlier this year after choosing Kirkconnell, who faced backlash after people dug up her social media history and revealed a questionable past. According to People, Kirkconnell was once seen dressed in Native American attire as a costume. Another image revealed The Bachelor contestant had attended an antebellum plantation-themed ball while she was attending Georgia College & State University in 2018, The U.S. Sun reports.
Shortly after, the two broke up, but they later returned to one another.
Kirkconnell issued an apology.
"At one point, I didn't recognize how offensive and racist my actions were, but that doesn't excuse them," she said. "My age or when it happened does not excuse anything. They are not OK or acceptable in any sense. I was ignorant, but my ignorance was racist."
The Bachelor franchise faced more backlash when Rachel Lindsay interviewed Chris Harrison on Extra and he defended Kirkconnell against what he called the "woke police." After viewers condemned the host for his comments, Harrison was fired on June 8, as Blavity previously reported.
Lindsay, who made history as the first Black woman on The Bachelorette, said she decided to distance herself from the franchise after the Harrison ordeal.
“I knew my relationship with The Bachelor was over in February 2021, when Chris Harrison, the host and face of the franchise, showed his true self on national television,” Lindsay wrote in an op-ed for New York Magazine. “We had only seen Chris Harrison perform as a host; this was like catching him with a hot mic.”
Speaking on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, James said he is now very happy in his relationship with Kirkconnell.
“You’ve got to be very stern in how you feel about things. You don’t want to rush things, so we take things day by day and we’re very much in love and very happy right now,” he said.