'Riverdale' Star Bernadette Beck Speaks Out About How Show Treats Its Black Characters
By Antoinette Bueno
Riverdale actress Bernadette Beck is speaking out about her experience working on the hit CW show, and like her co-star, Vanessa Morgan, says the show is failing its Black characters. Beck says her character, Peaches 'N Cream, had no backstory and was largely relegated to the background.
Beck also says that her character, who showed up in seasons 3 and 4, was made to be "unlikable" from the start.
"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 tells ELLE.com. "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."
"I was completely forgotten in the scene more than once," Beck also claims. "The director [would] 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."
Meanwhile, 26-year-old Beck said her white co-stars got plenty of screen time and character development.
"Some people say it’s just a TV show, but I'm thinking about the implications long-term," she notes. "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 ... building up their following, generating more fans, selling out at conventions, and fans have more of an emotional connection with them," she continues. "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?"
Back also had an issue with how Peaches 'N Cream -- a bisexual character -- was portrayed when it comes to her sexuality. In one scene, she's solicited for a threesome but largely stays silent.
"When you're in it, you're going through the motions and you're like, 'Oh great, I finally get to be utilized!'" she says. "But when I saw it all put together, it made my character seem like she was down for anything."
ET has reached out to reps for the CW and Warner Brothers for comment concerning Beck's comments.
Last month, Morgan also called out the show on Twitter for relegating Black characters to "sidekicks."
"Tired of how black people are portrayed in Media, tired of us being portrayed as thugs, dangerous or angry scary people," she wrote. "Tired of us also being used as side kick 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."
"Lmao too bad I'm the only Black series regular but also paid the least girl I could go on for days," she also wrote to a fan.
But Morgan did make sure to stick up for her co-stars.
"My role on Riverdale has nothing to do with my fellow castmates/friends," she tweeted. "They don't write the show. So no need to attack them, they don't call the shots & I know they have my back."
Meanwhile, Morgan's Riverdale co-star, Asha Bromfield -- who played Melody Valentine, a member of Josie and the Pussycats -- backed up her comments.
"Don't even get me started with how Riverdale treated the Pussycats," she replied on Twitter. "We had so much more to contribute than standing in the background and adding sass to a storyline. I stand with you @VanessaMorgan."
"We hear Vanessa. We love Vanessa. She's right," Aguirre-Sacasa wrote. "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," he continued. "Riverdale will get bigger, not smaller. Riverdale will be part of the movement, not outside it."