After #hearvanessamorgan began trending on Twitter, Riverdale Executive Producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa made sure Vanessa Morgan was actually heard. The 28-year-old actress, who plays Toni Topaz on The CW show, previously admitted she was “tired” of black actors “being used as sidekick non dimensional characters to our white leads” on May 31. Five days later, the Riverdale EP came forward with his response to Vanessa’s criticism of entertainment’s portrayal of black people.
— RobertoAguirreSacasa (@WriterRAS) June 5, 2020
“We hear Vanessa. We love Vanessa. She’s right,” Roberto, the drama’s executive producer, began a message that he shared to Twitter on June 4. “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,” he continued. “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.”
— Vanessa Morgan (@VanessaMorgan) May 31, 2020
The executive producer further revealed that all the show’s writers have opened their purses. “All of the Riverdale writers made a donation to [Black Lives Matter Los Angeles], but we know where the work must happen for us. In the writers’ room,” he wrote, concluding the apology. Vanessa appeared to accept the apology, because she retweeted his pledge.
Initially, Vanessa didn’t name drop her show when she came forward with her frustrations of problematic and inaccurate representation of black people on television. “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,” she wrote.
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
However, Vanessa made it clear that she was talking about Riverdale after @oneofthosefaces tweeted at her, “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.” Vanessa’s character, Toni, develops a romantic relationship with Madelaine Petsch’s character Cheryl Blossom later in the show.
“Lmao too bad I’m the only black series regular but also paid the least girl i could go on for days,” Vanessa responded; in another tweet, she wrote, “But exactly, used as the token biracial bisexual.”
Vanessa later clarified that she was not calling out any of her co-stars, who are predominantly white. “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,” she tweeted on June 2. A day later, she posted on Twitter, “And I will no longer take roles that don’t properly represent us. PERIOD.”