‘Riverdale’ Executive Producer Admits to Discrimination on the Show and Promises That Change Is Coming

Racial inequality has always been prevalent in America but more people are now calling attention to it after the brutal murder of George Floyd. Now, celebrities are calling out racism and revealing their own stories of experiencing discrimination. Vanessa Morgan, who plays Toni Topaz on Riverdale, recently spoke out against the show and how it portrays black people. After her claims got #hearvanessamorgan trending on Twitter, Riverdale executive producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa responded to the issues she brought up.

Madelaine Petsch, Casey Cott, Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, Madchen Amick, Skeet Ulrich, and Vanessa Morgan
Madelaine Petsch, Casey Cott, Cole Sprouse, Lili Reinhart, Madchen Amick, Skeet Ulrich, and Vanessa Morgan | Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED

What did Vanessa say?

Morgan took to Twitter on May 31 to expose what was going on in the tv industry.

“Tired of how black people are portrayed in Media, tired of us being portrayed as thugs, dangerous, or angry scary people,” she wrote in a note. “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 captioned the note saying that she was done being quiet.

When someone mentioned that not only was Morgan adding to the show’s diversity by being black, but she was also playing a bisexual character, Morgan revealed that she was the least paid.

“Lmao too bad I’m the only black series regular but also paid the least. Girl, I could go on for days,” she responded.

Later, she followed up saying that she would fight for her black fans.

“To my black fans, I have now made it my purpose to fight for us,” she tweeted. “To the six-year-old me who had no role model that looked like me on TV. This is for you. We aren’t your token black non-dimensional characters. This is being black in Hollywood. I will fight for YOU.”

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After her tweet started gaining traction, she made sure to stick up for the rest of the actors on the show.

“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.

Fan responses

Fans quickly took Morgan’s side and expressed the same grievances with the storylines on Riverdale.

“You shamelessly wrote off many Black characters and you don’t even care about the ones who’re still on the show,” one person wrote. “You treat your Black actors like sh*t and you don’t pay them equally. This blatant discrimination became painfully obvious now.”

“Riverdale S4 had 19 episodes,” another person wrote. “Vanessa was in 15. A lot you gonna say right? In 90% of them, she was in the background doing nothing. IF she had any lines, it would be 1-2 lines per episode or less. It keeps getting worse as the seasons go on.”

Riverdale exec responds

Days later, Morgan finally got a public response.

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“We hear Vanessa. We love Vanessa. She’s right,” Aguirre-Sacasa tweeted. “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. All of the Riverdale writers made a donation to @BLMLA, but we know where the work must happen for us. It’s in the writer’s room.”