Matt James had no idea what was in store when he agreed to be the first Black lead on the 25th season of ABC’s beloved television show The Bachelor. You may think you know everything there is to know about him, but that was only his first impression.
When The Bachelor franchise announced Matt James as the first Black lead, it was celebrated as long-overdue progress on the primetime show. America fell in love with Matt—the Christian, former NFL athlete, and nonprofit CEO—who charmed millions of viewers each week. But the off-screen conversations around the show revealed the realities and inescapable challenges of being Black in America and the depth of racism that still exists.
On the show, Matt could only go so far in sharing his own story with America. In First Impressions, Matt shares his views on controversial topics like race and opportunity that defined his season on The Bachelor. Matt lives at the intersection of these important issues and shares the wisdom his experience has granted him.
Matt describes the joys and difficulties of being the youngest of two Black sons, raised by a single, working-class, white mother in Raleigh, North Carolina. He elaborates on the spiritual closeness and sense of duty he felt for his mother, but also the complex relationships he had with the many male figures in his life: his prejudiced, Italian grandfather, who had trouble accepting Matt as his own; his father, whose womanizing and petty crime put strain on the family; and his older brother, who was Matt’s protector in youth, but who struggled with the long shadow of their father’s legacy.
Simultaneously inspirational and informative, First Impressions will leave readers with a deeper understanding of the life experiences that prepared Matt for such a divisive moment in television history.