Vanessa Morgan, who plays Toni Topaz on Riverdale, is the latest person to voice their opinion on the state of affairs in Hollywood. Amid increasing demands for equality, catalyzed by the police brutality protests happening in late May and early June, Morgan took to social media to point out major issues surrounding representation in the industry, and even called out her own show. Vanessa Morgan's tweets about Riverdale make it clear she is not pleased with everything about the show.
Morgan's industry-related tweets began on May 31, when she posted a photo of text that said she's "tired" of the way black people are typically portrayed in entertainment. The text read:
I'm 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 used in the show. It starts with the media. I'm not being [quiet] anymore.
Later that day, she stuck up for her co-star Ashleigh Murray (who played Josie McCoy on Riverdale until Season 3, when she became a lead as the same character on Katy Keene), after a troll accused Murray of being a "diva" on the set of Riverdale. "Maybe the show should write for her like the white characters," Morgan tweeted back.
Since those tweets, Morgan has responded to other Twitter users with more Riverdale criticisms as well. One user in particular noted how Morgan's character brings both racial and sexual diversity to the show (since Morgan is biracial and her character Toni is in a relationship with Cheryl Blossom on the show), to which Morgan noted she is the least paid series regular on set, and expressed her feelings that the series is using her as a "token" diverse character. (Elite Daily reached out to reps for Riverdale about this but did not hear back in time for publication.)
In response to her tweets, many fans have posted in support of Morgan, noting other instances in which Riverdale's characters of color have been treated in the show's storylines.
Morgan followed up on her tweets to clarify that they are not aimed at her Riverdale co-stars. "My role on Riverdale has nothing to do with my fellow castmates/friends," she tweeted on June 2. "They don’t write the show. So no need to attack them, they don’t call the shots & I know they have my back." (Lili Reinhart replied to that tweet voicing her support for Morgan.)
Morgan's tweets add to the voices calling for equality in Hollywood, particularly when it comes to writers creating multi-faceted characters for black actors — and black actors getting paid an equal salary for playing those roles. Another June 2 tweet seems to point to the police brutality protests and escalated conversations about racism as part of the reason behind her speaking up about the industry:
"[I] finally feel like I can speak up for myself and my fellow brothers and sisters & be heard. Usually everyone is fake listening. I really hope a change is coming."