- ABC has cast its first Black Bachelor, Matt James, after 24 seasons of the show, airing since 2002.
- This comes as fans, as well as former stars of the show, have been demanding that it correct its lack of diversity.
- Network executives claim this pressure did not impact their decision, but not everyone believed that.
- Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s only Black Bachelorette, said that while she is happy the show has finally cast a Black male lead, she thinks the timing is bad and that their intent may not spark the meaningful change she has been calling for.
ABC Casts First Black Bachelor
After producing 24 seasons of “The Bachelor” since 2002, ABC has finally cast its first Black lead: 28-year-old Matt James.
This is a major announcement for the hit dating series, which sparked one of the biggest reality franchises in television history, spanning over 40 seasons of shows including “The Bachelorette” and “Bachelor in Paradise.” James was originally going to be a contestant on the new season of “The Bachelorette,” which was supposed to be airing now but has been delayed because of the coronavirus pandemic. Throughout its 15 season run, “The Bachelorette” has only had one lead of color, Rachel Lindsay.
James is known to fans of the show for being good friends with Tyler Cameron, a previous contestant. The two have regularly appeared in social media posts together, which fans often follow closely. He made his debut as the upcoming Bachelor during a Friday segment of “Good Morning America,” where he said he was honored to be taking the role.
“Hopefully when people invite me into their homes on Monday night they’re going to see that I’m not much different from them and they see that diverse love stories are beautiful,” he said on the show.
Recent Calls for More Diversity
The decision to hire the first Black Bachelor comes as the show faced mounting pressure, both from fans and former contestants, to prioritize diversity. Over 85,000 people have now signed a petition calling for a more diverse cast. Lindsay recently wrote a blog post vowing to leave the franchise if the show did not bring on leads of color, contestants willing to date outside of their race, producers of color, and if the show did not stop making problematic storylines for people of color on the show.
While this pressure has been building up over the last few weeks as most aspects of American culture are beginning to grapple with systemic racism, network executives claim this had nothing to do with their choice.
“Matt was somebody who was on our radar and we were thinking about him,” Rob Mills, ABC’s top unscripted executive told Variety.
“It wasn’t a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later,” Mills said. “Certainly no one is blind to what is happening in the world, so hopefully this announcement serves as a bit of optimism during a time that we can really use this. But I don’t want this to look like we’re patting ourselves on the back or taking a victory lap.”
Lindsay Calls Casting a Band Aid Solution
However, not everyone is buying this. Traditionally, “The Bachelor” is announced after the previous season of “The Bachelorette” concludes, which is usually around August. “The Bachelor” then begins airing in January. The lead is often chosen from the pool of men who did not win.
Some think the choice to select and announce who the upcoming Bachelor would be six months in advance is not a coincidence, including Lindsay. She believes that regardless of what statements are being made by network heads, this is a direct response to the calls for change being made by herself and the fans.
“It’s a bandaid. It’s the easiest thing, to me, that you could do,” she said during a Friday episode of the popular podcast “Bachelor Party.” “It seems like it’s a knee-jerk reaction in response to what happened in our society. To what happened with George Floyd and the pressure that you’re getting from society. It’s almost like a man had to die in such a gruesome and public way for us to get a Black Bachelor. That’s what it feels like.”
While she says she is happy that the show has finally cast a Black Bachelor, she also thinks that the timing feels wrong, the process feels rushed, and the intent does not seem meaningful or heartfelt.
“The whole point of calling them out was to say ‘We don’t feel valued. We don’t feel heard. We don’t feel included.’” Lindsay explained. “And you are saying ‘Okay, well, here’s a Black person to step into this role.’ It’s great to see it, love to see it, but it doesn’t make me feel as if you’re really taking it into consideration what it is we say, when I say systemic racism. The internal, embedded, deep-rooted issues within this franchise where it needs to change structurally.”
She also criticized ABC for its segment announcing James as the Bachelor. He spent much of his interview time talking about his mother, who they showcased during the segment. It is not commonplace for a Bachelor’s mother to be such an integral part of their introduction to the role. Lindsay thought they focused on this because James’ mother is white.
“I think they wanted everyone to know his mother was white,” she said. “I will say it.”
Bachelor Alumni Express Support
Still, she has shared her support for James online, calling it “a step in the right direction.”
Elsewhere in Bachelor Nation, many other veterans of the franchise’s various programs also expressed congratulations to James, including former Bachelor Nick Viall.
Cameron, who appeared on Hannah Brown’s season of “The Bachelorette,” also wished his close friend good luck.
“This is all a testament of who you are as a person,” he said in an Instagram post. “Now the world gets to see the person you are and the heart you have. You can change the world.
View this post on Instagram
Congrats to my brother @mattjames919 on being named the Bachelor. This is all a testament of who you are as a person. Now the world gets to see the person you are and the heart you have. You can change the world. Proud of you and so excited for you. Not excited that somebody will be taking my spot as your snuggle buddy 😢 . PS peep the drool 🤤
Brown, who recently started a separate conversation about racism within the Bachelor Nation when she said the N-word while singing on Instagram live, congratulated James as well. Through Cameron, the two have also become friends.
“I cannot contain my excitement for this amazing human making history as the first Black Bachelor,” she wrote.
View this post on Instagram
Matt James is the Bachelor. I cannot contain my excitement for this amazing human making history as the first Black Bachelor— to God be the Glory! 🙌 This man is as good as it gets y’all, and that’s coming from a previous skeptic (lolz). I am so blessed to now call you friend. You’ve supported and encouraged me in some of the hardest moments lately and I’m so freaking pumped to support and encourage you as you get ready to go on an adventure of a lifetime! #1 Matt James fan right here! 🌹@bachelorabc
Right now, James’ season of the show is still slated to air in January, though that is all subject to change because of the coronavirus. The show usually involves up to 25 people in close quarters traveling together, so it is unclear what changes will be made going forward. It is also unclear what will happen to Clare Crawley’s season of “The Bachelorette,” which some executives hope can still film this summer.
See what others are saying: (Variety) (People) (Good Morning America)
Victoria’s Secret Drops Signature “Angels” for a More Inclusive Rebrand
Stars like Megan Rapinoe and Priyanka Chopra will be the new faces of the company as it begins a major rebranding effort.
Victoria’s Secret Ditches Angels
Lingerie brand Victoria’s Secret announced Wednesday that it is phasing out its signature “Angels” for a more inclusive campaign that will feature “accomplished women who share a common passion to drive positive change.”
The initiative is called Victoria’s Secret Collective. In a statement, the company introduced a slew of new partners, including soccer star and gender-equity activist Megan Rapinoe, actress and entrepreneur Priyanka Chopra, body positivity advocate and model Paloma Elsesser, photographer and GirlGaze founder Amanda de Cadenet, and many others. In addition to appearing in advertising for the company, they will also advise the brand on its messaging.
This rebrand marks a stark change for Victoria’s Secret, whose tall and thin Angels have become the hallmark of their business.
Victoria’s Secret Angels Catered to Male Gaze
Since the ‘90s, some of the world’s most iconic models — including Gisele Bündchen, Tyra Banks, Adriana Lima, and Gigi Hadid — have dawned the famous wings. In doing so, they also set impossible female beauty standards that catered almost exclusively to the male gaze.
The company has faced no shortage of criticism for using its models to promote what is ultimately a dangerous and unrealistic fantasy. It has had to change its slogan from “The Perfect Body” to “A Body for Every Body.” It also canceled the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show in 2019. Still, “sexy” was the goal of the brand, and even though the products are for women, many argued that it used a man’s definition of the concept.
“When the world was changing, we were too slow to respond,” Martin Waters, the company’s new chief executive, told The New York Times. “We needed to stop being about what men want and to be about what women want.”
Waters told The Times he has long known that Victoria’s Secret was overdue for a shift, but the company has just now gained the control to do so. Now, he says he does not see the old approach, or the Angels in particular, “as being culturally relevant.”
Rapinoe told The Times that Victoria’s Secret’s old messaging was “patriarchal” and “sexist.” She also said that it was trying to achieve sexiness “through a male lens and through what men desired.”
“And it was very much marketed toward younger women,” she continued, saying this was “really harmful.”
Victoria’s Secret has found itself wrapped in a handful of controversies over the past several years. In 2019, it was revealed that its former chief executive Les Wexner was closely tied to Jeffrey Epstein. In 2020, a report uncovered that men at the top of the company built its culture upon misogyny and harassment.
The store’s sales have also been falling. According to The Times, the company’s share of the women’s underwear market in the country dropped from 32% to 21% in 2015.
Company Will Have New Focus On Real Women
Now, more women will be in charge of the company and its major effort to rebrand. The brand’s new chief marketing officer, Martha Pease, released a statement saying its new goal is to develop deeper relationships with the women it caters to.
“We’re bringing new dimensions to our brand experience,” Pease said. “In marrying our new partners’ energy, creativity and perspectives with our network and scale, we can transform how we connect with and show up for women.”
On top of replacing Angels with outspoken and accomplished women of all sizes and backgrounds, other changes include expanding mannequins to a variety of sizes, replacing the Angels imagery that currently appears in every corner of the store, and expanding products in areas like sportswear.
The company will also focus more on depicting and servicing real womanhood. Up until this year, the store had never celebrated Mother’s Day, as it did not mesh with the “sexy” brand image. Last month, for the first time, the company celebrated the holiday and featured a pregnant model in its campaign. The store will also soon begin selling nursing bras.
Rapinoe told The Times that while she was initially shocked the brand wanted to work with her, she was convinced to do it because the company was committed to owning up to its past errors and changing its narrative, and she liked that she could be a part of creating that change.
Elsesser was likewise excited to use her voice to shape the company’s messaging and reach a large audience.
“With platforms like VS, where you enter the living rooms of all people, that’s where you make radical change,” she told The Times. Her goal is to use her role to push the company to expand its sizing
See what others are saying: (New York Times) (Insider) (People)
Rita Moreno Defends Lin-Manuel Miranda Amid “In The Heights” Colorism Criticism
“You can never do right, it seems,” the actress said during an appearance on “The Late Show” Tuesday night.
Lin-Manuel Miranda Addresses “In The Heights” Controversy
Actress Rita Moreno defended multi-hyphenate Lin-Manuel Miranda on Tuesday after the film “In The Heights,” which is based on his Tony Award-winning musical, faced criticism for its lack of representation within the Afro-Latino community.
While the musical has been met with wide critical acclaim, it has also faced backlash for its casting. The story takes place in the predominantly Latino New York neighborhood of Washington Heights, however many were upset that it largely represents lighter-skinned members of the Latino community and excludes darker-skinned members of the Afro-Latino community.
Miranda, who was also a producer for the film, addressed the controversy in a Twitter statement on Monday. He said he wrote “In The Heights” because he felt he had never been seen and wanted that to change for others who felt the same way.
“I can hear the hurt and frustration over colorism, of feeling unseen in the feedback,” he wrote. “I hear that, without sufficient dark-skinned Afro-Latino representation, the world feels extractive of the community we wanted so much to represent with pride and joy.”
“In trying to paint a mosaic of this community, we fell short,” he continued. “I’m truly sorry…I’m trying to hold space for both the incredible pride in the movie we made and be accountable for our shortcomings.”
Rita Moreno Defends Miranda
Moreno — whose stage and screen credits include “West Side Story,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” and “The Ritz” —defended Miranda during her Tuesday appearance on “The Late Show,” implying that the playwright had nothing to be sorry for.
“You can never do right, it seems,” she told host Stephen Colbert. “This is the man who literally has brought Latino-ness and Puerto Rican-ness to America.”
“I’m simply saying, can’t you just wait a while and leave it alone?” she continued. “There’s a lot of people who are Puerto Rican who are also from Guatemala who are dark and who are also fair. We are all colors in Puerto Rico. This is how it is.”
“It would be so nice if they hadn’t come up with that and left it alone, just for now. They’re really attacking the wrong person.”
Her response ignited backlash on Twitter, where she was a trending topic on Wednesday morning. Many were upset that she not only brushed the criticism aside but seemingly told Afro-Latinos to “wait a while” when it comes to representation.
Cast and Director Speak Out
Since “In The Heights” came out last week, issues of colorism have dominated conversations about the film on Twitter. Members of the cast have addressed the situation in an interview with Felice León at The Root.
“I didn’t realize until making this movie that I didn’t really get to see myself or people that looked like my siblings, that are darker than me, onscreen,” said Leslie Grace, who plays Nina in the film and is Afro-Latina.
“I hope that this is cracking that glass ceiling because I do hope to see my brothers and sisters that are darker than me lead these movies,” she later added.
Melissa Barrera, a Mexican-born actress who plays Vanessa told León that during the audition process, there were many darker-skinned Afro-Latino people being considered, but production ended up going with the actors they felt aligned most with the characters.
“I think they were looking for just the right people for the roles,” she explained. “For the person that embodied each character in the fullest extent.”
Director Jon Chu, who previously faced similar criticism regarding colorism in his film “Crazy Rich Asians,” acknowledged that he learned a lot in the process of making the film and is open to learning more.
“That’s a fair conversation to have,” he said. “I mean listen, we’re not going to get everything right in a movie. We try our best on all fronts of it.”
Chu’s response received some criticism, as at one point he mentioned the diversity of the background dancers to León.
“Those are roles that historically, we’ve been able to fill,” León, who is Black and Cuban, explained. “Right, we’ve been able to be the dancers and we’ve been able to be in the hair salons, and this and that”
“But a lead, that’s the breakthrough,” she continued. “You want to see Black people in the Heights. We want to see Afro-Panamanians, Black Cubans, Black Dominicans. That’s what we want to see and that’s what we were yearning for and hoping for.”
“I hope that at least encourages more people to tell more stories and get out there and do it right then,” Chu added.
“Call Her Daddy” Podcast Lands Exclusive Deal With Spotify
The deal between host Alex Cooper and Spotify is reportedly valued at over $60 million.
Spotify Inks Deal With “Call Her Daddy”
Spotify announced Tuesday that it has reached a deal to exclusively host the popular “Call Her Daddy” podcast with Alex Cooper starting July 21.
Variety reported that the agreement is valued at over $60 million dollars, making it “Spotify’s biggest exclusive deal for a woman-led podcast to date.” The partnership allegedly lasts three years and includes a first-look agreement for Cooper to develop other projects with the platform.
According to Spotify, the sex and dating podcast was the No. 5 most-listened-to podcast on the platform in 2020 and was the second-most popular female-created podcast as well. The audio streaming platform will now co-produce the show, in addition to exclusively airing both old and new episodes for free on its service.
Barstool Sports, which previously aired the show, is reportedly not involved in this deal. The sports and bro-culture-based media network first picked “Call Her Daddy” up in 2018 when Cooper hosted the show with her roommate Sofia Franklyn. In 2020, contract negotiations between the two hosts and Barstool Sports turned sour, resulting in Franklyn stepping down to start her own podcast while Cooper continued to host “Call Her Daddy” on her own.
Since then, Cooper has focused more on sexuality and mental health, bringing on guests Mia Khalifa, Miley Cyrus and Dr. Orna Guralnik. In May, Cooper posted an episode called “The Season Finale” where she announced a brief hiatus. It now appears that the episode marks the end of her working relationship with Barstool Sports, opening the door for a new chapter with Spotify.
“I’m incredibly thankful for everyone who has supported, helped, and been a part of ‘Call Her Daddy,’ Cooper said in a statement. “From its start three years ago, the show has always been about challenging the status quo and manifesting conversations that previously only happened behind closed doors. I can’t wait for this next chapter with Spotify, where I will continue raising the bar with great content and guests for the Daddy Gang.”
Spotify’s String of Major Deals
This decision comes as Spotify has been signing a slew of deals to exclusively host major podcasts. The network inked partnerships in 2020 with Kim Kardashian, as well as Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Earlier this year, it also scored a deal with Dax Shepard’s celebrity interview podcast “Armchair Expert.”
The platform made its largest deal in 2020, exclusively securing “The Joe Rogan Experience” which is regularly the number one podcast on the platform’s charts. That deal was worth $100 million and furthered Spotify’s ranks as one of the top podcast streamers in the world.
Making Spotify the sole home of “Call Her Daddy” is just the company’s latest move in dominating the podcast sphere. It also is a major step in reaching young listeners, as most “Call Her Daddy” fans are young women.
“We’re beyond excited to welcome ‘Call Her Daddy,’ one of the most wildly popular podcasts in the world, to Spotify,” said Dawn Ostroff, Spotify’s chief content and advertising business officer, in a Tuesday statement. “The level of enthusiasm and buzz from listeners generated after each episode is emblematic of the magic of the podcast. Alex connects with the millennial and Gen Z generations while empowering her audience to openly express themselves.”