Bernadette Beck opened up about her experience as a Black actress on Riverdale, two months after costar Vanessa Morgan called for more diversity on set.
The 26-year-old has portrayed Peaches ‘N Cream, a bisexual member of the Pretty Poisons, since season 3, which she believes has led to hate from some viewers due to its lack of backstory and likability.
“I was made out to be a very unlikable character and therefore, an unlikable person in people’s eyes,” Beck told ELLE.com on Tuesday, July 28. “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. I was, for no reason, depicted in a very negative, unattractive light.”
Beck added: “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.”
During her two seasons on the CW series, Beck recalled being made to feel like her presence on set wasn’t valued.
“I was completely forgotten in the scene more than once. 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.”
She continued: “You can’t treat people like they’re invisible and then pat yourself on the back for meeting your diversity quota for the day.”
For Beck, Peaches ‘N Cream’s personality is part of a bigger problem with people of colour being depicted in a negative light in the entertainment industry.
“I didn’t understand when I first got on that show that it meant something for your character to be likable. Some people say it’s just a TV show, but I’m thinking about the implications long-term,” she said.
“If we are depicted as unlikable or our characters are not developed or we’re looked at as the enemy all the time, that affects our public persona. What kind of opportunities are we losing out on even after Riverdale?”
By comparison, Beck claimed that her white costars get “all this screen time and character development,” which helps build up their following, “generating more fans, selling out at conventions, and fans have more of an emotional connection with them.”
The actress took to Instagram a post in which she wrote: “I have remained silent for far too long. We must come together as a collective to hold Hollywood along with our systemic oppressors accountable.”