“Riverdale” actress Bernadette Beck– who plays Peaches ‘N Cream in seasons 3 and 4 — is speaking out about the CW’s show lack of diversity amongst the cast.
She says she was brought onto the show to “fullfill a diversity quota.”
“I was made out to be a very unlikable character and therefore, an unlikable person in people’s eyes,” she told ELLE.com.
Peaches is not one of the show’s main characters. Her “sassy” persona merely chews gum or floats around in the background without any real purpose.
“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,” Beck says. “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.”
She is not the only Black cast member to highlight the show’s tokenistic use of Black actresses.
“Tired of how black people are portrayed in Media, tired of us being portrayed as thugs, dangerous or angry scary people,” she wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Show creator and executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa quickly offered up an apology.
“We hear Vanessa. We love Vanessa. She’s right,” Aguirre-Sacasa posted on Twitter. “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.”
Beck explains that the overtones of such slopping casting could cause problems for her career longterm.
“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?”