Candice Patton shared her early experiences on the set of The Flash on the first episode of Elliot Knight’s The Open Up Podcast, claiming that the CW and Warner Bros. mistreated the actor and stood by while she experienced “abuse and harassment” from viewers. Following her breakout role as Iris West on the comic-book series The Flash, currently heading into its ninth season, Patton says that she was subject to a barrage of racist and misogynistic online abuse questioning her casting on the show. “It was just free range to get abused every single day,” she tells the pod. “There were no social-media protocols in place to protect me. They just let all that stuff sit there.” According to Patton, when the show premiered in 2014, a Black woman lead in a superhero show was nearly unheard of (Halle Berry erasure notwithstanding), so the team behind The Flash didn’t plan for the predictable internet backlash. Although she believes that networks are waking up to the abusiveness of fan culture, she feels as though The Flash put her “in the ocean alone around sharks” and thought to herself, “I could get eaten alive out here.”
“I don’t give a fuck what Joe in Indiana thinks ’cause my check just cleared, and it was really big, Joe. You think I fucking care about your tweet?” she says. “But it’s more so the day-to-day stuff that affects me. The protocols in place, the things that I see happening for my white counterparts — that’s not happening for me.” She claims that the show did not give her the same protections and promotions as her white colleagues. In one instance, she alleges that her publicist had to ask The Flash’s Instagram account to follow her after noticing she was the only star excluded.
Microaggressions — like when a stylist’s only experience with Black hair was “Snoop Dogg, once,” needing to bring her own tools and makeup “just in case,” and having to tell stories through a “white lens” — became so traumatizing that she says she can’t watch the show. “I think so often about how much better my performances could have been over the last seven years if I wasn’t in a constant state of fight or flight and trauma,” she says. “It doesn’t feel good to watch.” Patton adds that she was under contract and felt a responsibility to stay after season two for the fans who loved her character, though the set was “toxic to my mental health.” “I’m coming out of a space of anxiety and depression, and moving into a really enlightened place in my life where I feel really hopeful,” she tells Open Up. If she could give any advice to season-one Candice, it would be “you earned this, you deserve to be here.”