Vanessa Morgan calls out Riverdale for not giving black actors storylines

3 June 2020, 12:00

Vanessa Morgan teases new song with Riverdale co-star Drew Ray Tanner

Sam  Prance

By Sam Prance

Asha Bromfield, Hayley Law, Ashleigh Murray and Lili Reinhart all showed their support for Vanessa on Twitter following her comments.

Vanessa Morgan has called out Riverdale for using its black actors as tokens and paying them less than their white co-stars.

On Sunday (May 31), Vanessa Morgan, who plays Toni Topaz in Riverdale, tweeted: "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 ads for diversity but not actually in the show. It starts with the media. I'm not being quiet anymore."

READ MORE: Teen dramas need to start writing actual storylines for their women of colour

Vanessa then opened up specifically about ways in which she feels tokenised by Riverdale and how it fails its black actors.

Vanessa Morgan calls out Riverdale for not giving black actors storylines
Vanessa Morgan calls out Riverdale for not giving black actors storylines. Picture: Rich Fury/Getty Images, The CW

Writer Grace Medford tweeted: "used in the ads for diversity but not in the shows" and Vanessa responded: "Yup". Grace then tweeted: "imagine they're getting so much more bang for their buck bc ur part of an lgbt storyline too, double the diversity - DOUBLE UR PAYCHECK IMO" and Vanessa added: "But exactly, used as the token biracial bisexual".

Vanessa also tweeted: "Lmao too bad I’m the only black series regular but also paid the least. girl i could go on for days." Grace then replied: "WOW, tell ur white friends we saw their hashtags and their lil police run ins but we said they need to back u if they’re really about it".

Following some online backlash towards her co-stars, Vanessa tweeted: "My role on Riverdale has nothing to do with my fellow castmates/friends. They don’t write the show. So no need to attack them, they don’t call the shots & I know they have my back."

Vanessa was promoted to series regular ahead of Riverdale season 3 and her character Toni has yet to be given a backstory.

Vanessa's co-stars then began speaking out in support of her. Asha Bromfield, who played Melody on the show, tweeted: "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". Vanessa replied to Asha with heart emojis.

Hayley Law (Valerie) retweeted Vanessa writing: "I’ve felt this from the beginning. We are so much more." Meanwhile, Ashleigh Murray (Josie) also retweeted Vanessa and Asha's tweets and Lili Reinhart tweeted: "We love and support you V. And support you 10000%." Vanessa retweeted Lili writing: "Love you".

Despite being a staple in the comics, Josie and The Pussycats were slowly fazed out of Riverdale with no explanation. After season 1, they barely had any proper storylines. It took Josie leaving Riverdale to star in its spin-off Katy Keene to actually get any significant screen time. Meanwhile, Melody and Valerie were written out of the show.

As it stands, no other Riverdale actors have engaged with Vanessa's comments. The CW have also yet to respond. We shall update you if they do.