“You can’t just dump your life story on somebody in a day,” 2020 Bachelor Matt James told Refinery29 over Zoom, hours before the premiere of the new season. “You learn this about them and you learn that about them. And then, because of these two things, that’s why they’re this way.
“That’s the process of unpacking something, as opposed to just being like…” James continued before imitating the sound of a busted pipe. “That’s overwhelming.”
We can view Monday’s season 25 premiere of The Bachelor as the first step in opening up the metaphorical suitcase that is Matt James, a complete newbie to the sprawling Bachelor Nation universe. As we see in “Week 1,” James wants viewers to recognize him as a man of faith from the very beginning. He kicks off the Bachelor Night 1 cocktail party with a religious prayer in place of the traditional toast. As James confirmed to Refinery29, he is a Christian.
“Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for bringing us all together healthy. Give these women the courage to get through these next few months,” James says in the premiere. “You say that you work all things for the good of those who love you and are called according to your purpose, Father God. And I feel like that’s why I’m here and I feel like that’s why these women are here, Lord.”
In any season, such a purposeful moment would stand out. But the scene feels especially pressing after the season finale of Tayshia Adams’ Bachelorette just a few weeks ago. During that episode, Adams cited religious differences as a core reason for her split with finalist Ivan Hall.
Nevertheless, James is his own Bachelor Nation lead — and his outlook on religious “dealbreakers” is totally different, as he suggested to Refinery29 (when he wasn’t dishing on his Queen’s Gambit binge watch).
Refinery29: You’re not from the Bachelor “system.” How did you prepare to lead the season?
Matt James: “I reached out to a bunch of alumni whom I respect. People who it worked out for and some that it didn’t work out for. I just wanted to get their feel on what to expect and if there’s anything they would have changed about their experience.”
Who were your favorite Bachelor Nation tutors?
“Everyone I talked to gave great advice. Me and Hannah Brown have an incredible relationship. I talk to her almost every day. I reached out to Rachel Lindsay. Sean Lowe. Wells. Becca. Peter. Colton. I talked to everybody. Ben Higgins! Tayshia. JoJo. Everyone gave me great advice. The net of that was to just be yourself — and don’t try to please people. As someone who’s a people pleaser, that was difficult.”
We’re both people of color. I’m sure you grew up in white spaces. Do you feel like we tend to “people please” to fit in?
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SOURCE: Refinery29, Ariana Romero