Maybe you remember this: A couple of years ago, The Bachelor—ABC’s megahit reality show featuring (nonblack) men, with access to an inordinate number of roses, who were looking for love while the cameras rolled on—was accused of being racist. In 19 seasons of the show, there had never been a black bachelor. There was even a lawsuit in 2012 over it. Despite the outcry, ABC never stepped up to the plate.
But WeTV did. Enter Match Made in Heaven, a new reality show featuring Shawn Bullard, a 34-year-old, once-engaged but never-married real estate developer, who the network is billing as “America’s First Black Bachelor.” (Are we not counting Flavor Flav?) Bullard is looking for TV love from among 24 women of various hues. The show also features his mother, Maggie Bullard, who in a preview takes a not-so-subtle shot at ABC’s bachelor blackout by asking, “Why settle for a rose when you can have chocolate?” Shady.
The Root caught up with Bullard hours before the launch of his new show (Wednesdays at 8 p.m.) to find out where Match Made in Heaven ranks on the ratchet meter (not high, Bullard says), what took TV so long to get a black bachelor (It’s official: We are not counting Flavor Flav) and if Bullard actually found love in front of the camera (hint: yes).
The Root: What made you want to participate in Match Made in Heaven?
Shawn Bullard: Black men are not portrayed the best on reality TV. We’re always yelling and calling women the b-name. I wanted to show another side to us. I wanted to be the professional gentleman, an educated, articulate black man, one who would let the world know that we know how to treat our women, how to court them, how to make them smile, how to talk to them. And in the process, I had a 50-50 chance of finding love.
TR: I mostly write about dating and relationships, and there is so much talk about how hard it is for a woman to find the right man. Is it equally hard for a man to find the right woman?
SB: It depends. There are choices of women for men. But there are a lot of men who still think a woman is supposed to do everything they say, not make more than a man, not be as outspoken as a man. If a man has those thoughts, it’s hard for him, but it’s never hard to treat a woman right. Whether you’re with her for the long haul or momentarily, it’s never hard to treat a woman with respect.
TR: What are you looking for in a partner?
SB: I like to think of the woman that I’m with as, not as competition, but a challenge for us to grow together. I want a woman who can command a room. She has to be intelligent, self-motivated, curvy and have self-respect. I want a woman that I can take to the mayor’s ball or I can bring her to the hood. I’m an all-around. I want her to be the same.
TR: Your mother is on the show. How big a factor does she play in your love life?
SB: I wouldn’t be where I am without her. My mom’s opinion means a lot, and we have a great relationship. I trust her opinion, but I still make my own decisions.
TR: Did you find love?
SB: I did. You don’t know who I picked. You have to watch and see. You might not be happy with my choice. [Laughs.]
TR: I have to ask because the blogs are “talking”: Is your love interest Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Claudia Jordan?
SB: That’s funny. No, we’re just real cool. She’s good peoples.
TR: So, you know that being a black bachelor on a cable-TV show with all these women vying for your attention is inevitably going to draw Flavor of Love comparisons. On a scale of 1 to 10, what’s the ratchet factor the audience should expect?
SB: A 2. There’s enough excitement to keep you tuned in, but not ratchet by far.
Demetria Lucas D’Oyley is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. Follow her on Twitter.