Riverdale Creator Pledges Changes Coming After Cast Members Criticize Depiction of Black Characters
The protests inspired by the death of George Floyd - and the larger problems of police brutality [...]
The protests inspired by the death of George Floyd - and the larger problems of police brutality and racial inequality in America - have sparked some significant conversations in recent days. In particular, some have spoken out about the ways that representation in media have helped perpetuate certain stereotypes -- including Riverdale star Vanessa Morgan. Morgan has made headlines in recent days for her comments about how the representation of Black characters on television needs to improve, and it looks like series creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa agrees with her sentiment. On Thursday, Aguirre-Sacasa took to Twitter to respond to the #HearVanessaMorgan campaign that fans launched on social media, and promised that the hit The CW series will improve its representation going forward, and that the writing staff has made a donation to Black Lives Matter Los Angeles.
#hearvanessamorgan @BLMLA #riverdale ❤️ pic.twitter.com/gnlI8Dh9yz— RobertoAguirreSacasa (@WriterRAS) June 5, 2020
"She's right. We're sorry and we make the same promise to you that we did to her," Aguirre-Sacasa's statement reads 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."
The public conversation around representation in Riverdale began last week, when a troll claimed that Josie McCoy actress Ashleigh Murray left the series because of her being a "diva". Murray, who now stars on Riverdale spinoff Katy Keene, quickly debunked the rumor. Morgan also chimed in, arguing that "maybe the show should write for [Murray] like the white characters."
Lol you clearly have me mixed up with someone else.
I love the Pussycats more than any show ever did. If it were up to me, we'd have our own show. And you obviously don't watch Katy Keene because sis is surrounded by women. So fuck all the way off https://t.co/qAVARI2Vd6— Ashleigh Murray (@iamamurray) May 31, 2020
You don’t know what the fuck your talking about and don’t talk about my friend like that. Another thing i hate BLACK women being called DIVAS for sticking up for themselves. Maybe the show should write for her like the white characters. You picked the wrong day get off my page. https://t.co/go74B7YBYc— Vanessa Morgan (@VanessaMorgan) May 31, 2020
That same day, Morgan made a post about how she's "tired" of how Black people are portrayed in media, particularly "as sidekick non-dimensional characters to our white leads."
I’m not being Quite anymore. ✊🏽 #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/JXgJic4mrR— Vanessa Morgan (@VanessaMorgan) May 31, 2020
Days later, Morgan reassured that she will continue to advocate for this issue, and will "no longer take roles that don't properly represent" the Black community.
To my black fans, I have now made it my purpose to fight for us. To the six year old me who had no role model that looked like me on TV. This is for you. We aren’t your token black non dimensional characters. This is being black in Hollywood. I will fight for YOU 🖤 https://t.co/OgsB5ZjDjE— Vanessa Morgan (@VanessaMorgan) June 3, 2020
And I will no longer take roles that don’t properly represent us. PERIOD.— Vanessa Morgan (@VanessaMorgan) June 3, 2020
Exactly, finally feel like I can speak up for myself and my fellow brothers and sisters & be heard. Usually everyone is fake listening. I really hope a change is coming. https://t.co/SrVQ20g9zg— Vanessa Morgan (@VanessaMorgan) June 2, 2020
Hayley Law and Asha Bromfield, who portrayed fellow Pussycats members Valerie Brown and Melody Jones in the show's early days, also shared support for Morgan's sentiment.
I’ve felt this from the beginning. We are so much more♥️ https://t.co/HIQSKNfglz— Hayleau (@hayleau) June 3, 2020
Don't even get me started with how Riverdale treated the Pussycats. We had so much more to contribute than standing in the background and adding sass to a storyline. I stand with you @VanessaMorgan. https://t.co/IUMm9xaFYO— ASHA (@ashabrom) June 2, 2020
While Morgan has been a fixture on Riverdale since Season 2 - and a series regular for the past two seasons - fans have often called out the series for not featuring her as much as her costars. Fans had hoped to find out more about Toni and her backstory in the show's fourth season, but that largely didn't come to fruition.
Riverdale is expected to return with new episodes in January of 2021.
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