Mike Johnson thinks ABC’s slow crawl toward more diverse a “Bachelor” cast is “atrocious.”
“There have been numerous, wonderful black and indigenous people of color that could have been cast in the lead roles, and for the franchise to not to do that, it’s just terrible,” the reality star told Variety on Monday.
ABC recently picked two black contestants — Matt James and Tayshia Adams — as the newest leads, but Johnson, 32, said, “It should not have taken an outcry from the fans,” to make that decision.
In June, Rachel Lindsay, the franchise’s first black lead 14 years after the show’s premiere, voiced support for a fan-based petition urging the series to cast its first black “Bachelor.” James, 27, was chosen shortly after.
“I love the fans who signed petitions and things like that, but it shouldn’t have taken that,” Johnson said. “I hope that they do listen. And I hope that it’s not just the leads and contestants, but people in charge should also be diverse, as well.”
James, who is best known for being Tyler Cameron’s best friend, was supposed to appear on Clare Crawley’s season of “The Bachelorette,” which is currently being filmed. However, producers chose him before he even participated on the season, which was a first for the franchise.
“The timing was definitely off,” Johnson said. “I think everyone can agree with that.”
He added, “At the time that they said it, it was peculiar. It wasn’t natural. It was forced. That’s how it felt for me. Even if I were chosen to be “The Bachelor,” my homeboys would tell me, ‘Why did they announce you right now?’ It’s not about the person in the role, but it’s about the timing of the role being announced. It just felt very forced to me.”
Johnson, who appeared on Hannah Brown’s season of “The Bachelorette,” was often a top choice for fans to be the first black “Bachelor.”
The reality star said he never got a clear answer from ABC on why he was not picked.
“I wish I knew. I wish I knew. I really do,” he said. “I was never given a reason, ever. I don’t know. I just know that they chose who they chose. I really do wish I knew more.”
However, the Air Force veteran shared that he is “happy” for James.
“I’m not sure how Matt went from being a contestant to being a lead, but I thought that was pretty dope, and I texted Matt to congratulate him and called him,” he said.
Johnson also praised Adams, who reportedly took over Crawley, 39, as “The Bachelorette” after Crawley allegedly fell in love with one of her contestants and cut filming early.
“Tayshia is awesome,” Johnson said. “She’s a wonderful human being. I’ve spoken to her many times on TV and off TV. I’m obviously a proponent for representation — if she’s the new Bachelorette, which it seems almost certain that she is Bachelorette — this is wonderful. And I know she wants love, I know she’s extremely thoughtful in her process of thinking things through and she loves to have fun. She’s a wonderful catch.”
The reality star hopes that moving forward the ABC franchise will continue to reflect what he sees throughout the U.S.
“If I look outside my apartment balcony right now, I see America — white, Black, Indian, Chinese, every color, not a size zero,” he said. “I see people black men that have locks in their hair. I want ‘The Bachelor’ to be a representation of America. It’s supposed to be about love, and love comes in all forms and colors — not just white America.”
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