Marquel Martin is opening about how The Bachelor franchise almost cast him as its first Black lead in 2014.
Martin, 33, appeared on Andi Dorfman's season and was a fan-favorite, however, his castmate Chris Soules was chosen to be The Bachelor for season 19. He later appeared on the first season of Bachelor in Paradise.
The ABC alum, 33, discussed his feelings on not being cast as the series lead and Matt James becoming the franchise's first Black Bachelor in a recent interview.
"It's good to see," he said of James, 29, on the Help! I Suck at Dating podcast Sunday.
Martin then explained he had "multiple conversations" with producers in 2014 about the possibility of being the first Black lead and at the time, he was "leaning towards yes."
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However, he hesitated about taking on the historic role.
"It would be a hard decision to make for me personally because I've predominantly dated outside my race," the former UFC fighter said.
"So I had that vision of okay, if I am fortunate enough to be selected to be the first Black Bachelor and we have this diverse group and if I end up with a white woman, what does that look like? " he added. "If I end up with a Latino/Hispanic [woman], what does that look like? If I end up with a Black woman what does that look like?"
Martin added, "That pressure and that judgment, that's heavy."
The Bachelorette alum recalled his 2014 blog post in which he criticized not being picked as The Bachelor and how he believed it was about race.
"I remember writing a blog as to my truth of why I thought and it wasn't an indictment on the franchise, but more so — hey, in 2014, the world was not ready for a Black Bachelor. I think. That's just my own personal opinion," he said. "I felt like they would do much better if they had a Black woman on first, which they ended up doing."
Rachel Lindsay was the franchise's first Black lead in 2017.
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She was also instrumental in pushing ABC to cast more diverse leads such as James, Clare Crawley and Tayshia Adams.
"I probably would have been a terrible Bachelor," Martin jokingly added.
Last summer, Martin criticized the franchise for seemingly staying silent about rising racial tension and police brutality among Black Lives Matter protests.
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"Don't get me wrong, I love that I had the opportunity to be on the show," he wrote in a lengthy statement on Instagram on June 8 along with the link to his 2014 blog post. "I have nothing but love for all of the producers, runners and cast members that I know (well most of you haha) but it saddens me to see that you guys seem to be silent on the current state of our nation and the outcry of equality from my people (African Americans)!"
He continued, "I am a proud black man and as a black man who was once a cast member on your show I take offense to your silence as a franchise. Maybe some of you personally aren't racist and support the #blacklivesmattermovement, but as a franchise I've yet to see it."
Days later, James was named the first Black Bachelor and show executives released a statement acknowledging "the lack of representation of people of color on our franchise" and pledging to "make significant changes."
"We are taking positive steps to expand diversity in our cast, in our staff, and most importantly, in the relationships that we show on television," the statement read. "We can and will do better to reflect the world around us and show all of its beautiful love stories."
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