TV Features

POPSUGAR Play/Ground Festival: ‘Riverdale’, ‘The Flash’ and ‘Legends’ Stars Talk Representation and Character Arcs

The ladies of The CW were joined by POPSUGAR’s Kirbie Johnson during the Screen Queens panel at the POPSUGAR Play/Ground festival on Sunday, June 10. Ashleigh Murray and Vanessa Morgan from Riverdale, The Flash’s Candice Patton, and Legends of Tomorrow’s Caity Lotz took to the stage to discuss what keeps them motivated on the job, the power of representation onscreen and more.

Cindy Ord/Getty Images for POPSUGAR Play/Ground

For Ashleigh Murray, the most important thing was self care. She admitted to finding it hard having to travel back and forth from Vancouver while being based in New York City and how she has seasonal depression; being in Vancouver for many months out of the year didn’t make that any easier. She takes drops of vitamin D and makes sure to have a good support system around her. Murray mentioned receiving some hate after being cast as Josie McCoy, but credited Candice Patton for helping to pave the way and make it easier for her as a black woman playing a role that had been white in the comics. For Riverdale’s third season, Murray would like to see Josie reunite with the other members of the Pussycats. She’d also like for Josie to explore her parents’ divorce after it was revealed that Mayor McCoy was cheating on the her dad in season two.

Vanessa Morgan was so excited to be cast on Riverdale as Toni Topaz, a member of the Southside Serpents and briefly a love interest of Jughead. Part of her excitement stemmed from already having been very close friends with Madelaine Petsch, who plays Cheryl Blossom and Toni’s new girlfriend on the show. Morgan admitted to being nervous about kissing Jughead (Cole Sprouse) because she knew that fans wouldn’t be too thrilled about it (and they weren’t). However, she admits that it led her to get together with Cheryl and Morgan is happy that her character, being a bisexual biracial woman, is good representation for women.

Cindy Ord/Getty Images for POPSUGAR Play/Ground

Candice Patton, who plays Iris West-Allen on The Flash, discussed being told by executive producers not to go online following the announcement of her casting because of comic fans’ comments and racism. While she has gotten a lot of harassment and hatred from “very opinionated” comic book fans, Patton says she is happy to take “the brunt” of their vitriol if it means that women of color ten years from now won’t have to face it as much. She is grateful she gets to play a leading lady on a successful show and this keeps her focused and motivated because she knows how rare that is.

Heading into season five of The Flash, Patton says Iris and Barry (Grant Gustin) are still very much in shock about their daughter, Nora (Jessica Parker Kennedy) coming back in time. For Iris’ journalism, she thinks it’s important for them to be getting back to it because women should be seen doing the things that they love. Patton doesn’t know how the writers will balance out her journalism and STAR Labs, but she hopes it works out because “women are more than the men and women they’re in relationships with” and journalism has always been such a large part of Iris’ comic book storyline as well.

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As Sara Lance, Caity Lotz says it’s important that she is the captain of the Waverider on Legends of Tomorrow for two reasons. The first being that Sara is a woman and, as we know, it’s rare to see women in leadership roles on TV, and the second being that she’s a bisexual woman. Lotz says these aspects of her character are very important for representation. She then spoke about Shethority, the project she started with Patton, and how it’s expanding to include a website. When it launches, it’ll include article submissions by fans, as well as articles written by Lotz and Patton. The colleagues and friends will also partake in interviewing each other for the website. Lotz wants it to be known that Shethority isn’t just a place where she and the rest of the DCTV women talk to fans, but a place where fans can also share their own stories with them and with each other.

There wasn’t any news about Legends of Tomorrow, but Lotz admitted that the scenes that make her the most nervous are the sex scenes. According to her, they’re awkward and they tend to close the set and people ask her if she’s ok and if she’s comfortable and she just wants to get on with it.

Those are only some of the highlights from the Screen Queens panel. You can watch the full video above!