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‘The Flash’ Actor Candice Patton: The CW Didn’t Protect Me Against Racist Fans

Published on July 9th, 2022 | Updated on July 9th, 2022 | By FanFest

Candice Patton said in an interview that The CW and Warner Bros. did not do enough to protect her from racist fans when she started playing Iris West on The Flash.

The actor who plays Iris has been playing her for eight seasons and counting. Recently, the actor revealed that early on in her time playing Iris, she received a lot of online harassment. Neither the network nor the studio had any policies in place to protect her from this kind of behavior from fans.

Heroes & Villains Fan Fest/Amanda Szentesy

“Now people understand how fans can be racist, especially in genre [film and tv], but at the time it was kind of just like, ‘That’s how fans are, whatever,’” Patton 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 ok to treat your talent that way, to let them go through abuse and harassment. 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 continued, “It’s just not enough to make me your lead female and say, ‘Look at us, we’re so progressive, we checked the box.’ It’s great, but you’ve put me in the ocean alone around sharks. It’s great to be in the ocean, but I can get eaten alive out here.”

Pictured (L-R): Daniella Panabaker as Caitlin Snow and Candice Patton as Iris West–Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW

The actor stressed that “there has to be people in positions of power who understand my experience 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. 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.”

Patton said she wanted to leave The Flash in Season 2 because the harassment was getting so bad and she was “severely unhappy.” She stayed with the series because she felt a responsibility to her inclusive casting. But Patton continued to see how she was not protected by the network or the studio or treated by co-workers the same as her white counterparts.

The Flash — “Masquerade” — Image Number: FLA713fg_0007r.jpg — Pictured: Candice Patton as Iris West – Allen — Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW — © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss

“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,” Patton added. “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. 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.”

Patton’s experience on The Flash has improved over the years. The show has been renewed for a ninth season that will come out this fall. Patton said that production starts up this summer, and she is not sure if the new season will be her final appearance as Iris West.

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