Vanessa Morgan, who currently plays Toni Topaz on Riverdale, is rumored to be one of the actors in contention to replace Ruby Rose as the title lead on Batwoman, The CW's troubled DC adaptation. Shortly after the series finale, Rose and Warner Bros. TV announced that they would part ways, and soon after, reports started circulating that the new Batwoman would not be a recast Kate Kane, but a new character invented for the series. Other than a casting notice (which are often general and sometimes intentionally misleading) and producers' promise that the new character will still be part of the LGBTQ+ community, little is known about the new character or what direction the show plans to take her in.
The Cinema Spot claims that Morgan is in Warners' crosshairs to play Ryan Wilder, the character who will succeed Kate Kane as Batwoman. Morgan first appeared as Toni in Riverdale's second season, in the episode "Watcher in the Woods." Recently, Morgan criticized Riverdale's treatment of its Black characters, tweeting that she is the only Black series regular (following the departure of Ashleigh Murray, who moved to the spinoff Katy Keene), and that she is also the lowest paid character.
"Tired of how Black people are portrayed in Media, tired of us being portrayed as thugs, dangerous or angry scary people," said Morgan, whose character on Riverdale is the leader of a biker gang. "Tired of us also being used as sidekick non-dimensional characters to our white leads. Or only used in the ads for diversity but not actually in the show."
Riverdale producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa responded with a brief statement promising to do better by Morgan and her character.
Morgan plays a bisexual character on Riverdale, and has been in a relationship with Cheryl Blossom (Madelaine Petsch) almost from the beginning of her time onscreen. There seems to be a sense among a lot of fans that LGBTQ+ characters are handled pretty well on Riverdale (Aguirre-Sacasa, who showruns Riverdale and oversees Katy Keene and The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, is openly gay), characters of color...not so much. Before Murray left, making Morgan the sole remaining Black series regular, fans spent years objecting to how little attention Josie and the Pussycats got before they were broken up and Murray was sent to New York. Given that so many of the characters in Katy Keene have ties to Josie's mythology from the comics and cartoons, some fans even wondered why a beloved character spun out of a popular sitcom wouldn't just headline her own show, rather than playing second lead to the titular (non-Black) character.
Since Riverdale is going to feature a five-year time jump in the early episodes of the upcoming season, it gives plenty of opportunities for pretty radical change. Skeet Ulrich, who plays FP Jones, the father of Jughead, will be leaving the series, as well as Marisol Nichols, who plays Veronica Lodge's mom. A time jump would be one of the only believable ways to break up Cheryl and Toni, who have become inseparable and one of the show's designated couples since Toni joined.
The time-jump would also, one assumes, provide an on-ramp for more non-white characters, since if Morgan were to leave it would mean Riverdale had no Black series regulars left.
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