Bernadette Beck Says Black Actresses on Riverdale 'Stand There, Chew Gum, and Look Sassy and Mean'

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Bernadette Beck Says Black Actresses on Riverdale 'Stand There, Chew Gum, and Look Sassy and Mean'

In May, Riverdale series lead Vanessa Morgan shared her working experiences on the hit show via Twitter. She said she was “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.” Her comments even prompted series creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa to issue a formal “apology,” claiming he and the writers had made donations to Black Lives Matter LA, and would “do better to honor [Morgan] and the characters she plays, as well as all of our actors and characters of color.” Now, a second actor, Bernadette Beck, has sat down with Elle to share her own experiences of being sidelined, ignored, and “portrayed in a very negative, unattractive light.”

In a new interview, Bernadette Beck, who plays Peaches ‘N Cream on Riverdale, told Elle:

“I get it, there’s always a protagonist and antagonist, but I never had much of a story plot or enough character development to even be considered an antagonist. […] And I’m not the first Black actress to show up on set, stand there, chew gum, and look sassy and mean. I feel like I was just there to fulfill a diversity quota. It’s just to fulfill points.”

Those characters she’s referencing are Morgan’s Toni Topaz, or the former in-show Josie and the Pussycats, who abruptly disbanded after the non-Josie Pussycats were sidelined (probably so lead Veronica Lodge could have more on-camera singing opportunities): Ashleigh Murray (Josie McCoy), Hayley Law (Valerie Brown), and Asha Bromfield (Melody Valentine.)

Beck elaborates that how her character is written contributes to a much larger pattern of racism in genre television, especially when it’s targeted at teenagers:

Our white co-stars are getting all this screen time and character development. They’re building up their following, generating more fans, selling out at conventions, and fans have more of an emotional connection with them. But if we don’t necessarily get that, and we’re looked at with disdain, what does that do to us and how does that stain our reputation moving forward?”

She also notes that she was cast specifically as a bisexual actress, but onscreen, this facet of her life and character was only utilized in a threesome subplot, in which her character accepts a proposition from Morgan’s Toni Topaz. Beck also says she was “completely forgotten” more than once on set: “The director [would] be walking off set and I’d have to chase them down because I had no idea where to stand, what to do—I just hadn’t been given any instruction.”

As it’s already been said, Beck is now the second actor to come forward about their working experiences on Riverdale. She also joins a much larger reckoning in teen-specific media, with cast mates on the once-similarly marketed Glee, like Samantha Marie Ware or Dabier Snell, revealing the racism they encountered on set from Lea Michele, and others. To Riverdale’s writers and creators, and the industry at large, Beck tells Elle: “You can’t treat people like they’re invisible and then pat yourself on the back for meeting your diversity quota for the day.”

TMZ reports that The Real Housewives of New Jersey is “ramping up to shoot,” even while the pandemic is still very much a real threat to the cast. “Sources close to production” tell the outlet that the cast will join The Real Housewives of Atlanta and The Real Housewives of Orange County in resuming production. According to those sources:

The Jersey cast and crew will go through the same safety precautions as the other shows — everyone on set gets daily temp checks, folks are encouraged to socially distance and a lot of scenes will be outdoors. We’ve heard the crews will be required to wear masks, but it doesn’t sound like the cast members will be forced to do so.

Interestingly, RHOC is continuing to film despite Shannon Beador and her three teenage daughters all contracting the virus:

Seeing that RHONJ will employ the same “safety” precautions as it’s New Jersey counterpart, I’d suggest that producers maybe give those guidelines a second reading! [TMZ]

Doja Cat apparently had coronavirus after previously saying she wasn’t afraid of getting it:

Ricardo Tisci sent Nicki Minaj a bunch of Burberry baby clothes, expectedly:


Cole Sprouse was taking a social media hiatus but he’s like, back now:

  • Kim K. is back in Los Angeles after taking a private plane from Wyoming alone. [TMZ]
  • Dina Lohan says she is getting fit so she can one day be cast on Dancing With the Stars. Dream big, Dina! [Page Six]
  • Tiffany Hadish went on Carmelo Anthony’s YouTube series to talk about her fears of having children. [People]
  • Brad Pitt rode a motorcycle. [Hollywood Life]
  • If you are the person who allegedly left Kate Beckinsale an anonymous rabbit on her doorstep for legitimately no known reason… uh… please call me… I have some questions about your recent decisions. [Daily Mail]
  • OMG, Addison Rae updates! [Just Jared Jr.]
  • Seth Rogen says he was fed a “huge amount of lies” Israel’s occupation of Palestine: “They never tell you that, ‘Oh, by the way, there were people there’. They make it seem like it was just like sitting there, like the fucking door’s open.” [The Guardian]
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