This year has sparked some significant conversations regarding racial inequality in America, especially through nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd. That movement also led to discussions on social media and beyond regarding representation in media, and whether or not characters on film and television have helped perpetuate certain stereotypes. The CW's Riverdale quickly had a unique role in that conversation, especially after cast members Vanessa Morgan and Ashleigh Murray publicly spoke out about the show's portrayal of its Black characters in June. Several other Riverdale castmates echoed that, including Valerie Brown actress Hayley Law, who tweeted that she's felt Morgan's sentiment "since the beginning." While speaking to ComicBook.com about her role in the new film Spontaneous, Law revealed that she's "very happy" that the conversation was started, and hopes that it leads to real change within the industry.
"I'm very happy that the last year has brought a light to representation in film. It was something, before, that I think a lot of people of color felt like we couldn't talk about, because we have to kind of just be happy that we were there," Law explained. "I don't want anyone to feel like I'm not grateful for opportunities, but it's really nice that other cast members, on Twitter and stuff, started the conversation. I really am happy and I'm hoping that it continues. I hope that it starts to get more and more inclusive, but it's been nice that people have noticed because we've been noticing for a long time. So it's nice that people are finally speaking up about it."
Despite having decades of comic appearances under her belt, Valerie was largely portrayed as a side character within the world of Riverdale, with her main storylines either revolving around her friendship with Josie McCoy (Murray), or her brief romantic relationship with Archie Andrews (KJ Apa). Midway through Season 2, Valerie and fellow Pussycats member Melody Valentine (Asha Bromfield) disappeared from the series altogether, after Josie decided to rebrand herself as a solo act.
Law is just one of several cast members to address Riverdale's depiction of Black characters, with Peaches 'N Cream actress Bernadette Beck also speaking candidly about her experience on the series. In June, Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa released a statement in response to the conversation, promising to amend the problem in the seasons to come.
"We're sorry and we make the same promise to you that we did to [Morgan]," Aguirre-Sacasa's statement read in part. "We will do better to honor her and the character she plays. As well as all of our actors and characters of color. Change is happening and it will continue to happen. Riverdale will get bigger, not smaller. Riverdale will be part of the movement, not outside it."
Riverdale is expected to return with new episodes in 2021 on The CW.