"Riverdale" Actor Bernadette Beck Opened Up About Being Tokenized And Mistreated On Set
"I feel like I was just there to fulfill a diversity quota."
This is Bernadette Beck, who you might recognize as Peaches 'N Cream on Riverdale.
Bernadette just gave an interview to Elle — and in it, she spoke candidly about her negative experiences as a Black woman on the Riverdale set, called out the show's writers and directors for tokenizing her character, and said she felt like she was only there "to fulfill a diversity quota."
“I was made out to be a very unlikable character and therefore, an unlikable person in people’s eyes,” Beck 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,” she said. “I was, for no reason, depicted in a very negative, unattractive light. 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.”
Bernadette revealed that Riverdale directors would frequently forget to even speak to her on set, and that she felt like she was "invisible":
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. You can’t treat people like they’re invisible and then pat yourself on the back for meeting your diversity quota for the day.
Later in the conversation, Bernadette explained why portraying an "unlikable" character, especially one without much depth, can negatively impact a young Black actor's career.
“Some people say it’s just a TV show, but I’m thinking about the implications long-term. 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?"
"Our white co-stars are getting all this screen time and character development," she continued. "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?”
And Bernadette also took issue with the show's portrayal of her character's bisexuality — specifically, that she silently agrees to participate in a threesome, seemingly without much autonomy:
When you’re in it, you’re going through the motions and you’re like, "Oh great, I finally get to be utilized!” But when I saw it all put together, it made my character seem like she was down for anything.