‘The Flash’ and ‘Riverdale’ Stars Detail Suffering Racist Backlash

The CW stars Candice Patton and Ashleigh Murray have opened up about racist backlash they’ve suffered for their portrayals of traditionally white comic book characters on The Flash and Riverdale.

“For me, Iris West was traditionally white in the comic books. So, you know, comic book fans are very opinionated, very vocal. So it was very scary stepping into that role when I started the show,” said Patton, who plays Iris West on The Flash, during a panel appearance at POPSUGAR’s Play/Ground festival.

“And I remember our executive producer at this time, once I got cast, he was like ‘Don’t go online. Just don’t go on,’” she recalled. “But what’s great is, I think over time, people have embraced me and have embraced this character and I think it’s really important. And I think what’s great is, you know, years to come, people will remember Iris West as being African-American. And that’s a really, really cool thing.”

Added Murray, who plays Josie McCoy of Josie and the Pussycats fame on Riverdale: “It’s the exact same thing, you know? With Josie, she’s originally white in the comics, and so was Melody [Asha Bromfield]. And we all ended up coming as an all-black group.”

Murray said she received similar advice: avoid online commentary.

“And when I actually was testing for it, my aunt asked me ‘How are you going to deal with it, if you book this? How are you going to handle people having an issue with it?’ And I was like, ‘We’ll just worry about it when it comes,’” Murray said.

“And then when it came, I did exactly that. They were like ‘Just don’t even go on the Internet. Don’t check social media.’ And I have seen people say some really unfortunate things, but there was so much happiness and gratitude and support outside of that negativity, that it kinda outweighed it. And now it’s just white noise. I don’t even notice it or see it much anymore. And it’s probably thanks to [Candice], because [she] had to go through it before I did. You probably made the transition a little bit easier.”

“And I think that’s the thing, the more we do it, the more we get cast, the more we unfortunately take the brunt, the easier it’s going to get on every woman of color that comes after us that’s cast on a show,” Patton said.

“That’s going to become the normal, I hope sooner than later. But, you know, if I had to deal with crap online and harassment online so a girl who looks like me, ten years from now, can successfully be on these shows without any of that, then it’s well worth it. I can take it.”

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The Flash and Riverdale return to the CW Tuesday, October 9.

h/t: The Young Folks