‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’: Cordelia Was Supposed to Be Played by a Black Actress
The ’90s had a ton of beloved teen dramas. From Dawson Creek to 90210 and of course, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, there was a slew of different programs to choose from. Unfortunately, as much as we loved and enjoyed these TV shows, they were not very diverse.
TV was still very much a segregated space with Black characters being cast in all-Black programs or being relegated to the token Black or minority character on more mainstream shows.
The WB’S Buffy the Vampire Slayer had a ton of fantastic qualities. The female-led series starred Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy Summers, a teen girl, and Slayer in a long one of women whose mission was to seek out and destroy vampires and other demons. In addition to centering Summers, the series also highlighted female friendships, relationships. and the LGBTQ community. However, the series was supposed to be even more diverse then it was.
‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ had amazing female characters
In addition to Buffy, who struggled with her role as a Slayer while dealing with her romantic feelings for Angel (David Boreanaz) and eventually Spike (James Marsters), Whedon’s series did an excellent job of highlighting women.
Buffy’s best friend, Willow Rosenberg (Alyson Hannigan) was a badass witch who at one point became addicted to magic. She also got into a relationship with her girlfriend, Tara Maclay, which helps her advance both her magic and her self-confidence.
In addition to Willow, Buffy’s archnemesis Cordelia Chase (Charisma Carpenter) begins the series as a rude queen bee of Sunnydale High. However, she evolves into much more than that. After continuously finding herself in life-threatening situations, Cordelia reluctantly becomes a part of Buffy’s crew before eventually moving to Los Angeles to join the supernatural detective agency Angel Investigations and aging vision powers.
Kendra Young was the only major Black character on ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’
Bianca Lawson’s Kendra Yong would be one of the only prominent Black characters on Buffy during its seven-season run. Kendra was a Slayer from Jamaica who was activated following Buffy’s temporary death.
She appeared in three episodes of season two. Though Kendra and Buffy didn’t exactly see eye-to-eye on certain things especially when it came to Buffy’s love for Angel, they formed a bond until Kendra’s death at the hands of the diabolical Drusilla.
Cordelia was supposed to be played by a Black actress on ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’
In turns out that Lawson’s Kendra wasn’t supposed to be the only prominent Black character on Buffy. Whedon wrote the role of Cordelia for a Black actress.
“Originally, Joss was looking for a Black actress for the role of Cordelia,” Whedon’s former PA George Snyder wrote in his book, Slayers & Vampires: The Complete Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Buffy & Angel. “But one of the stumbling blocks there was the way we knew Joss anticipated the relationships shifting and changing. There was some concern at the network at the time that interracial relationships would be problematic.”
Eventually, Whedon gave into the network’s “concerns” casting Carpenter who would also star in the Buffy spinoff, Angel. “At that point, the WB was a different kind of network,” Synder said. “I know that came up and Joss said, ‘I can’t have restraints on how I mix and match the dynamics. That’s part of the fun of the show, that Willow is in love with Xander, Xander is in love with Buffy, Cordelia can’t stand any of them yet finds herself drawn to Xander.’ Joss decided it wasn’t worth fighting that fight at that particular time, but he didn’t want to be hindered in the dynamic of the shifting triangles.”
Now Whedon has been talking about rebooting Buffy with a Black-female lead.