Ahead of his debut, James sat down for an interview with People in which he discussed his ultimate goal as a role model for the Black community on the show.
“I’m hoping that being in this position paves the way for people like me to be in this and it be normalized,” he said. “‘Oh Matt was a great Bachelor.’ It doesn’t have to be, ‘Oh he was a great Black Bachelor.’”
Season 25 kicked off with the 28-year-old real estate broker talking with host Chris Harrison about what to expect from the show and the pressure he felt being a historic part of the long-running reality series.
“My mom is White and my dad is Black, and I experience what it was like to be a product of interracial marriage,” Matt told Chris (via People). “And it’s tough because you’ve got people who have certain views, old-school views on what a relationship and what love looks like. And you’ve got people who are cheering for you to find love. And then you’ve got people who are cheering for you to end up with a specific person, a specific person of a specific race.”
He added: “That’s something that kept me up at night. It’s like, I don’t want to piss off Black people, I don’t want to piss off White people, but I’m both of those. You know what I mean? It’s like, how do I please everybody?”
After a pep talk from the host, who instructed him to lead with his heart and not let the weight of responsibility get in the way of finding love, it was time for James to meet the 32 women vying for his affection this season.
Many of the women noted that he was making history on the show, including 28-year-old model Chelsea, who said she hoped they could be the show’s first-ever Black couple.
During his time with Kristin, she asked him about the weight of responsibility he faces this season to which he echoed similar sentiments he shared with Harrison.
“I feel a load of responsibility,” James admitted. “But in that, I feel like my experience isn’t everyone’s experience. I can only go and speak on things that I’ve experienced and live out my truths and do the best I can in representing who I am and how I was raised.”
The former college football player had a strong debut, connecting with several of the women but ultimately sending eight home.