Matt James was thrown into the spotlight after he starred in Season 25 of The Bachelor.
He made headlines as the first Black bachelor and was open about the pressures and criticisms that came with that role. While Matt was initially excited to share his journey to finding love, his time on the show was not what he expected.
Now he’s sharing his thoughts about the controversial season and why he feels the producers of the show may have failed him.
Matt says the producers shifted the direction of the show
Matt recently sat down with The Los Angeles Times and got candid about his time on The Bachelor, his new book, and his relationship with Rachael Kirkconnell.
He started the interview by expressing his disappointment in the direction producers chose to take his season. He said he really wanted viewers to learn more of his background, accomplishments, and to understand the struggles and obstacles he overcame in his life. These were things he assumed everyone working on the show agreed with.
Instead, Matt says producers chose to focus on the contestants and their drama. The shift in focus happened without Matt’s knowledge. He discovered it while watching the show with his family and friends when it debuted.
He told The LA Times, “The show went straight into seeing these women doing crazy things. It was very frustrating to watch.” Matt believes the editing portrayed him as lacking a personality and ruined his appeal with the show’s fanbase.
Matt shares details of his relationship with Rachael
Matt quickly received more critiques from viewers once his relationship with Rachael began to blossom. She came under fire when old photos of her attending an antebellum-themed party surfaced, along with her agreeing with social media posts that were seen as racially insensitive.
Matt, who already felt pressure to choose a Black woman as the winner of his season, was now feeling attacked for getting closer to Rachael. At the time, the show was also making headlines after its host Chris Harrison received a ton of backlash from his interview with former Bachelorette, Rachel Lindsey. This added to Matt’s stress and he began to feel unhappy with the show.
By this point, Matt was feeling drained and felt there was no way to salvage his reputation with the fans. However, he continued focusing on his budding romance with Rachael. He gave her the final rose, choosing her as the winner. And although the two briefly broke up after the show, they later reconnected and are still together.
When asked about their relationship, Matt said, “My relationship had been made into a sideshow, a complete circus. Rachael and I have moved on. We’re one of the only couples from that franchise still going strong. The reason is we’re going at things at our own pace. We’re not playing games that a lot of people play just to stay in that circle.”
Matt talks about why he wrote a book
Before closing out his interview, Matt talked about writing his book, First Impressions: Off-Screen Conversations With a Bachelor on Race, Family, and Forgiveness.
He calls the book his memoir, saying it shares stories of his life prior to joining The Bachelor as well as his time on the show and how it impacted his life.
Matt says the book addresses topics the show was afraid to focus on. This includes being raised by a White single mom, how his dad being absent affected his ability to develop meaningful relationships, and witnessing his brother have traumatic encounters with the police.
He says the book also talks about racial issues, which is a topic he did discuss with multiple women on the show. He feels that since the show did not air those conversations, readers will now get an idea of his feelings on being biracial and the impact it had on his season.
To conclude his interview, Matt says he doesn’t hold a grudge against The Bachelor and takes ownership for his role in the way things played out. He says, “I knew what I was signing up for” and understands that The Bachelor will do what they have to do to promote their show.
Matt says if given the chance, he would go through the experience again. He says despite the frustrations and misunderstandings, in the end, he found what he was looking for in Rachael.
The Bachelor is currently on hiatus.