The Flash star Candice Patton is calling out The CW for failing to protect her from online abuse at the hands of racist fans. In a recent episode of The Open Up Podcast, Patton, who plays Iris West on The Flash, revealed that she was so "severely unhappy" with the online harassment, and The CW and Warner Bros.' lack of response, that she almost left the superhero drama after two seasons.
"Now people understand how fans can be racist, especially in genre [films and TV shows], but at the time it was kind of just like, 'That's how fans are, whatever,'" Patton said of the early days of the series, which premiered in 2014. "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 continued. "For me in 2014, there were no support systems. No one was looking out for that. It was free range to get abused every single day. There were no social media protocols in place to protect me, so they just let all that stuff sit there."
Patton suggested that The CW and Warner Bros. believed they "checked the box" by hiring a Black female lead, but failed to do anything to truly support her. "It's great, but you've put me in the ocean alone around sharks," she said. "It's great to be in the ocean, but I can get eaten alive out here."
The Flash star went on to say that the racist abuse became so bad that she wanted to leave the show after Season 2, but stayed because she felt responsible for diversifying the show and the network.
Unfortunately, she insists little has changed since the mid-2010s. "If I get pulled over at 2 a.m. in Jackson, Mississippi, by a white cop, do you think he gives a shit that I'm Candice Patton from The Flash? It doesn't matter," she explained. "We still need protection because the world sees us in a certain way."
"When I step on a set and everyone working around me is white, I'm not protected and I will never be protected," added Patton. "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."
The Flash recently wrapped its eighth season on The CW and is slated to return for Season 9 this fall.
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Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.