'Bachelor' Reveals Cast for Historic Season: "More People Will Continue to See Themselves Represented"

MATT JAMES, CHRIS HARRISON
ABC/Craig Sjodin

Host Chris Harrison with Bachelor Matt James (left)

The Bachelor is going to look different in 2021. Matt James will be making his debut as the first Black Bachelor in 25 seasons, and now, the ABC franchise has announced the inclusive cast that will be joining him for the historic ride.

ABC revealed the 32 women who will be competing for James' final rose on Friday. And not since Rachel Lindsay's groundbreaking 2017 season as the first Black Bachelorette has the long-running reality dating series announced a cast so diverse.

"I’m glad that Matt is our Bachelor," franchise host Chris Harrison, who helped announce the women on social media, tells The Hollywood Reporter. "I’m glad that more and more people will continue to see themselves represented on the show. Yes, there’s drama. But [there's] also [the] positive and being able to see yourself fall in love. That’s the representation that you want."

James has never appeared on the franchise prior to his leading role. In a rare move, the producers plucked James from the cast of the currently airing season of The Bachelorette amid the production delay from COVID-19 and gave him the gig as the first Black Bachelor over the summer, amid the country's racial reckoning and public outcry for the hit franchise to diversify its majority white leads.

"I think that if you’ve watched over the last couple of years, you have seen the work and you have seen it continue to show up on your TV screens," says Harrison of the behind-the-scenes effort to diversify the franchise being reflected in 2020 and 2021. "We didn’t want to tell you what we’ve been doing, we want you to see it."

Indeed, James' season follows the currently airing Bachelorette, which stars Tayshia Adams as the first Black and Latina woman to take on the role. Adams took over midseason after Clare Crawley, who is also Latina, exited the show after an early engagement to Dale Moss, who is biracial. "I’m proud of the work our entire team has done; our team at The Bachelor, ABC and [producers] Warner Horizon," says Harrison of the franchise diversifying both the cast and crew with more people of color. "It takes a long time to turn around a big ship. Are we all the way there? No. But have we made great strides? Absolutely. And I’m really proud of it."

While many viewers will be meeting James for the first time on Jan. 4, the social-media-savvy Bachelor Nation already knows the 28-year-old real estate broker, entrepreneur and community organization founder as the Instagram-popular best friend of Tyler Cameron, who was the fan-favorite runner-up on Hannah Brown's recent cycle of The Bachelorette.

The women who were cast for James are mostly 20-somethings who hail from all over the country, as well as one contestant from Canada and another from Ethiopia. After the franchise successfully filmed a COVID-free season of The Bachelorette in a bubble in Palm Springs, California, James and his group of women underwent similar pandemic safety protocols and filmed their season in seclusion at the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort in Pennsylvania. "Everything we learned from The Bachelorette, we just moved it over to The Bachelor," says Harrison of the quarantining and testing process.

ABC's bios for the women reveal a 21-year-old socialite and self-described "queen" as curious standouts among a professional group that ranges from journalists to attorneys and health care advocates.

Here are the women who make up the cast, listed in alphabetical order:

Abigail, 25, a client financial manager from Beaverton, Oregon
Alana, 26, a photographer from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Alicia, 24, a professional ballerina from New York City
Amber, 30, a nursing student from Costa Mesa, California
Anna, 24, a copywriter from Chicago
Bri, 24, a communications manager from San Francisco
Carolyn, 30, a journalist from Los Angeles
Casandra, 25, a social worker from Newport Beach, California
Chelsea, 28, a runway model from Brooklyn, N.Y.
Corrinne, 22, a marketing manager from Pomfret, Connecticut
Emani, 25, a realtor from Albuquerque
Illeana, 25, a health food developer from New York City
Jessenia, 27, a social media marketer from San Antonio
Kaili, 26, a hostess from Chicago
Katie, 29, a bank marketing manager from Renton, Washington
Khaylah, 28, a healthcare advocate from Durham, North Carolina
Kimberly, 28, an airline recruiter from Seattle
Kit, 21, a socialite from New York City
Kristin, 27, an attorney from Jersey City, New Jersey
Lauren, 29, a corporate attorney from Miami
Magi, 32, a pharmacist from Adwa, Ethiopia
Mari, 24, a marketing director from Odenton, Maryland
Marylynn, 28, an event coordinator from Studio City, California
MJ, 23, a hairstylist from Hudson, Ohio
Pieper, 23, a graduate student from Happy Valley, Oregon
Rachael, 24, a graphic designer from Cumming, Georgia
Saneh, 25, an IT consultant from Denver
Sarah, 24, a broadcast journalist from San Diego
Serena C., 24, a flight attendant from San Francisco
Serena P., 22, a publicist from Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Sydney, 28, a marketing specialist from Nashville
Victoria, 27, a queen from Los Angeles