issues to light.
On May 31, Morgan shared a statement about her frustration with media companies ” many of whom have been sharing “Black Lives Matter” posts in recent days as the worldwide protests against the police killing of George Floyd continue to grow. According to Morgan, some companies aren’t practicing what they’re currently preaching.
Over the last week, Americans across the country have protested systemic racism and police brutality against Black people following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. This past weekend, cops responded with more brutality, and media companies decided it was the right time to chime in, tweeting out messages...Read more
Here is her statement in full: “Tired of how black people are portrayed in media, tired of us being portrayed as thugs, dangerous, or angry scary people. 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. It starts with the media. I’m not being quite [sic] anymore.”
— Vanessa Morgan (@VanessaMorgan) May 31, 2020
It’s hard to look at that and not think of the CW’s Riverdale, which seems to check many of those boxes. It has faced criticism for having a predominantly white cast, sectioning off many of its non-white characters into the show’s gang storylines (which often show Archie as a “vigilante” coming in to fix them). In fact, the Southside is where we first met Morgan’s Toni, a Serpents member who brought Jughead into the seedy, drug-filled world of Southside High. Not only was this another time a Black character has been featured as a gang member, but Morgan herself received death threats ” before she ever appeared on Riverdale ” from fans who thought her character was there to break up Jughead and Betty.
Instead, Toni entered a relationship with Cheryl Blossom, and the character later became a series regular. However, just because she’s onscreen more doesn’t mean it’s better representation. Viewers have pointed out how Toni rarely has a storyline that’s not connected to Cheryl, a role that Morgan called “the token biracial bisexual” in another tweet. And it’s not just in front of the camera: Morgan also said she’s the lowest-paid series regular on Riverdale. Gizmodo reached out to the CW for comment and will update should we hear back.
Lmao too bad I’m the only black series regular but also paid the least ???????????? girl i could go on for days ????
— Vanessa Morgan (@VanessaMorgan) June 2, 2020
Then, there’s the Pussycats. Ashleigh Murray, who played Josie McCoy on Riverdale (and has since moved to its spinoff Katy Keene), was featured prominently in early ads for the comic book series. Even though she was touted as a major part of the show early on, she rarely got storylines of her own (and let’s not forget the whole “Milkshake“ incident). Her character has played a much bigger role on Katy Keene, but it doesn’t forgive the treatment she received on Riverdale.
In response to a since-deleted tweet that claimed Murray was kicked off Riverdale for being difficult to work with, both Murray and Morgan stepped up to defend Josie McCoy. Murray noted how she loved the band “more than any show ever did.” Hint hint.
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
The other actresses who played the Pussycats have also spoken out about the show. Hayley Brown (also of Altered Carbon fame), who played Valerie Brown, shared Morgan’s tweet with the message: “I’ve felt this from the beginning. We are so much more.” Actress and author Asha Brom (Locke & Key), who played Melody Jones, shared this statement about how she felt the Pussycats were there to be in the background and occasionally add “sass” to their scenes.
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
Today, Morgan wrote that she will work to fight for Black representation in media, saying “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.” In addition, she promised from now on that she will only wear clothes that support Black designers for red carpet and other events.
While the creators involved with the show have yet to speak out on the matter, according to Riverdale showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Riverdale’s writers have donated to the Minnesota Freedom Fund (which raised over $US2 ($3) million and is now asking donations be given elsewhere) and Black Visions Collective, and Archie Comics is donating all proceeds to the Equal Justice Initiative through 12pm Thursday.
The @RiverdaleWriter and @SabrinaWriters made donations to @MNFreedomFund and @BlackVisionsMN. We nominate @BatwomanWriters and @SupergirlStaff to join us in funding racial justice. ⭐️❤️???????????? pic.twitter.com/u6MbMj3hK8
— RobertoAguirreSacasa (@WriterRAS) May 31, 2020
Riverdale recently finished its fourth season early because of the coronavirus. Season five is set to take things a few years into the future and is expected to debut in January 2021. Katy Keene still has not been renewed for season two. According to Deadline, the network is waiting to see if streaming numbers increase the viewership.