‘Riverdale’ Actress Bernadette Beck on How the Show Fails Its Black Characters

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In light of the recent movement for Black lives, many Hollywood stars have come forward to share their experiences with racism in the film and television industry, drawing necessary connections between racist systems and racist media representation. In May, Riverdale actress Vanessa Morgan wrote on Instagram and Twitter that she is “tired of how Black people are portrayed in media, tired of us being portrayed as thugs, dangerous, or angry, scary people. Tired of us 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.” Morgan went on to say that she is the only Black series regular and is paid the least. She also stated she will no longer take roles that do not adequately represent Black people.

Now, fellow Riverdale actress Bernadette Beck—who plays Peaches ‘N Cream in seasons 3 and 4—is coming forward to stand in solidarity with her Black castmates and to share her own story. She says her experience on-set is much like Morgan’s. “I was made out to be a very unlikable character and therefore, an unlikable person in people’s eyes,” she tells ELLE.com exclusively.

Peaches ‘N Cream doesn’t have a developed backstory. In fact, neither does Vanessa Morgan’s character, Toni. But Peaches also doesn’t have a personality. She simply exists in the background of many scenes, chewing bubblegum with her arms crossed and looking defiant. She is often positioned as a service worker, either DJing or collecting tickets at the door to an event. On multiple occasions, producers told Beck that she was supposed to appear “sassy” and that her character is someone who “always speaks her mind”—ironic, considering Peaches has very few lines of dialogue. This attitude is never explained on the show or in marketing or promotion.

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