Though The CW's Grant Gustin & Candice Patton-starring The Flash is currently in that between-seasons zone, the long-running Arrowverse is still making headlines. In this case, it's Patton and what she had to share on The Open Up Podcast (from Elliot Knight & Studio Hendricks). And while Patton had some things to share about the show's future (they're expecting to head back for filming this summer, and she still isn't sure if she would return if there ended up being a 10th season), it's what Patton revealed about her time during the early seasons of the show that's beginning to get much-needed attention. During the approximately one-hour episode, Patton is open and honest when discussing how she felt neither the network nor Warner Bros. was there to protect her from toxic, racist social media trolls upon her debut as Iris West-Allen in large part because no protocols were in place to protect her and others when she first began with the series.
"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'. 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 explained. "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."
Revealing that she considered leaving the series back during the second season because the abuse had reached a level where she found herself feeling "severely unhappy" Patton chose to stay out of a sense of responsibility to what her being in that role meant to so many. But that time also drove home the importance 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."
But Patton emphasized that though the networks, studios & streamers may have protocols in place to make things better, protecting their people and understanding that racism is raging even worse than ever on social media is essential. "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. 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," Patton explained. "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."
Earlier this month, Patton was gracious enough to share some insight from a contractual perspective on her brief absence from the show for four episodes during the past season. Taking to Instagram Stories (as you can see below), Patton explained that she and her team had negotiated the multi-episode time off to compensate for any COVID-related border issues there could be between the U.S. and Canada that would make it "extremely difficult if not impossible to get home to the US (which is paramount to me)." But Patton and her team also made it clear that the actress "would be happy to be featured in all episodes" if the travel situation would "continue to stay optimistic (and it was clear early on that it would)." But though the travel between the U.S. and Canada remained manageable, Patton writes that the option to have her in every episode "ultimately was not exercised" and her storyline absence was kept in place. Here's a look at a screencap of the complete post: