Shortly after she spoke out about racial inequality on the hit TV show, Riverdale creator Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa apologized to Vanessa Morgan, and promised that both he and the series will "do better" for her and the other actors of color going forward. On June 3, Morgan called out Riverdale for "sidelining" its black characters, writing that she was "tired" of them being written as "side kick non-dimensional characters to our white leads."
In a series of posts on Twitter, Morgan also claimed that the show's black characters were "used in the ads for diversity but not actually in the show," and that the writers don't give the black characters the same character development and storylines as the white leads. The following day, after #HearVanessaMorgan began trending on Twitter, Aguirre-Sacasa responded to Morgan's statements with an Instagram post, admitting that the actor was "right" in her assessment of the show.
"We hear Vanessa. We love Vanessa. She's right," the writer and creator wrote. "We're sorry and we make the same promise to you that we did to her." He continued by promising that Riverdale "will do better to honor [Morgan] and the character she plays" going forward, "as well as all of our actors and characters of color." He ended his statement promising for sustained change in the series, writing, "Change is happening and will continue to happen. Riverdale will get bigger, not smaller. Riverdale will be part of the movement, not outside it."
In addition to the pledge to "do better" by their Black actors and characters, Aguirre-Sacasa revealed that "all of the Riverdale writers made a donation" to Black Lives Matter Los Angeles. However, he also promised that the writers "know where the work must happen for us: in the writer's room," and added the hashtag "#hearvanessamorgan."
Morgan's original post came about as a response to a fan who claimed in a since-deleted tweet that Ashleigh Murrary — who played Josie McCoy on Riverdale before reprising her role on the spinoff Katy Keene — was written off the drama for being a "diva." In addition to defending her costar, Morgan also wrote, "I hate BLACK women being called DIVAS for sticking up for themselves," before taking a dig at the Riverdale writers. "Maybe the show should write for [Josie] like the white characters," she wrote.
In a follow-up Twitter post, Morgan called out Hollywood for its poor portrayal of Black people. "[I'm] tired of how black people are portrayed in the media, tired of us being portrayed as thugs, dangerous, or angry scary people," she wrote, later adding that change "starts with the media." It seems like Aguirre-Sacasa's post is a direct response to that post, though his statement notably doesn't include a reference to Morgan's other claim, that she is paid less than her white costars.
"I’m the only black series regular but also paid the least," Morgan told a fan on Twitter on June 2, before adding that the character she plays, Toni Topaz is "used as the token biracial bisexual" on Riverdale. Despite being a series regular, Morgan gets notably less screen time than her white counterparts, and her storylines tend to revolve around her romance with Cheryl Blossom (Madeline Petsch). Hopefully, Aguirre-Sacasa and the rest of the Riverdale team will follow through with their promise, and that will change when the show returns in 2021.