Does Riverdale have a diversity problem??
Bernadette Beck, best known as Peaches ‘N Cream on the popular CW series, says that she was cast on the show to meet a “diversity quota” and has been treated as if she was “invisible.”
In a new interview with Elle, the 26-year-old opened up about her role in seasons 3 and 4, where she is a member of the Pretty Poisons, and explained her frustration about the lack of development for her character and storyline:
“I get it, there’s always a protagonist and antagonist, but I never had much of a story plot or enough character development to even be considered an antagonist. I was, for no reason, depicted in a very negative, unattractive light. And I’m not the first Black actress to show up on set, stand there, chew gum, and look sassy and mean. I feel like I was just there to fulfill a diversity quota. It’s just to fulfill points.”
And it’s not just her storyline that hasn’t been given enough love, the London native says she’s even been “forgotten” about when shooting scenes:
“I was completely forgotten in the scene more than once. The director be walking off set and I’d have to chase them down because I had no idea where to stand, what to do—I just hadn’t been given any instruction. You can’t treat people like they’re invisible and then pat yourself on the back for meeting your diversity quota for the day.”
Bernadette has also unfortunately been victim to death threats and body-shaming at the hands of the series’ young fan base due to her lack of emotion on the show, and she has suffered severe anxiety attacks because of it:
“I didn’t understand when I first got on that show that it meant something for your character to be likable. Some people say it’s just a TV show, but I’m thinking about the implications long-term. If we are depicted as unlikable or our characters are not developed or we’re looked at as the enemy all the time, that affects our public persona.”
“What kind of opportunities are we losing out on even after Riverdale? Our white co-stars are getting all this screen time and character development. They’re building up their following, generating more fans, selling out at conventions, and fans have more of an emotional connection with them. But if we don’t necessarily get that, and we’re looked at with disdain, what does that do to us and how does that stain our reputation moving forward?”
Not only does Beck feel she was cast to fit a “quota” because of the color of her skin, but she explains how she feels her bisexuality was also taken advantage of on-screen. The actress was intentionally cast for her role because she is bisexual, but her character has been portrayed as hypersexual, playing on a “down for a threesome” trope:
“When you’re in it, you’re going through the motions and you’re like, ‘Oh great, I finally get to be utilized!.’ But when I saw it all put together, it made my character seem like she was down for anything.”
This, unfortunately, sounds like a common theme among stars of not only Riverdale, but shows on the CW in general. Both Vanessa Morgan and Ashleigh Murray have detailed their negative experiences as Black women on the show, in addition to Candice Patton, who stars as Iris West on The Flash.
At least Riverdale‘s showrunner and creator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, addressed the obvious issue of how characters of color are written on the show, previously penning:
“We hear Vanessa. We love Vanessa. She’s right. We’re sorry and we make the same promise to you that we did to her. 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 will continue to happen. Riverdale will get bigger, not smaller. Riverdale will be part of the movement, not outside it. All of the Riverdale writers made a donation to @BLMLA, but we know where the work must happen for us. In the writer’s room.”
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