Candice Patton sadly hasn’t been a stranger to extreme racism from The Flash fans. Other Black actors have been privy to the dark underbelly of fandoms, but it’s only been recently that actors like Leah Jeffries and Moses Ingram have been supported by their studios. However, Patton hasn’t had that luxury.
According to Variety, Patton told The Open Up Podcast that The CW and Warner Bros. never protected her against the racist vitriol she received for playing Iris West, Barry Allen’s love interest.
The character is traditionally white in the comic books, but she was changed for the TV series adaptation.
“Now people understand how fans can be racist, especially in genre [film and television], but at the time [The Flash debuted] it was kind of just like, ‘That’s how fans are, whatever,'” she said. “Even with the companies I was working with, The CW and WB, that was their way of handling it. We know better now. It’s not okay to treat your talent that way, to let them go through abuse and harassment.”
"Now people understand how fans can be racist, especially in genre [film and television], but at the time [when 'The Flash' debuted] it was kind of just like, 'That's how fans are, whatever,'" she said
“Even with the companies I was working with, The CW and WB, that was their way of handling it. We know better now. It’s not okay to treat your talent that way, to let them go through abuse and harassment.”
She said that there must be "people in positions of power who understand my experience and and understand the Black experience and the Black female experience who can say, 'OK, she needs protection.'"
“Any time you hire a minority of any kind you have to be prepared to protect them,” she said. “In the real world, we are not protected. So just because you put us on a fancy Hollywood set, with the hair and makeup and you assume we’re safe, we are not safe.”
She also added that she wanted to leave the series in its second season because of how "severely unhappy" she was, but stayed because she felt a responsibility to what she represented as inclusive casting.
But she saw how the powers that be continued to keep her unprotected and how she was treated differently by co-workers versus other white actors. As she said, “If I get pulled over at 2 a.m. in Jackson, MS by a white cop, do you think he gives a sh-t that I’m Candice Patton from The Flash? It doesn’t matter.”
“We still need protection because the world sees us in a certain way,” she continued. “When I step on a set and everyone working around me is white, I’m not protected and I will never be protected. And that’s not to say everyone has bad intentions, but they have blind spots. That can contribute to my harm. It’s been a learning experience for companies and productions.”