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Flash Series Casting Sheet Indicates Search for Actress of Color for Love-Interest Iris West


Put a notch in your “acknowledgements that we live in a culture that prioritizes a more honest depiction of the actual diversity of our society than that of decades past” belt. The Flash, the CW’s Arrow spinoff featuring the titular DC character is racebending its female lead and love interest in order to create a more diverse cast lineup.

At least they are according to leaked open casting sheets publicized by Bludhaven Banter. Here’s what the call says about Iris West, The Flash/Barry Allen’s longtime flame and eventual wife.

IRIS – 22-28 – African-American – As smart as she is beautiful, Iris is in grad school studying psychology. She’s also Barry’s mile a minute, fast-talking, quick-witted best friend. Her father, Detective West, took in Barry when his mother was murdered, and his father was wrongly accused and imprisoned for her murder. In a tough childhood for Barry, she was the one “not tough” thing. She’s unaware of Barry’s strong feelings for her.

Iris’ father, named only as Detective West, is also a role being offered to an African American actor, indicating that the nuclear West family is likely being presented as fully African American (rather than interracial, for example). The Flash is a character who has had a number of sidekicks and replacements, all descended at least partially from the West family, for example, Wally West, the Flash of the DC Animated Universe Justice League cartoon, is, in comics, Iris’ nephew. Considering the number of bit characters, sidekicks, and other expanded universe references the crew of Arrow likes to make, this isn’t a simple decision abut making Barry’s will-they-or-won’t-they relationship an interracial one: it’s also about significantly diversifying the Flash legacy.

(via Comic Book Resources.)

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  • Anonymous

    Should I turn on my “You’d be upset if they cast a white guy as Black Panther!” deflector shields now?

  • Thomas Hayes

    Cool.

  • BatiHoney

    This is awesome and HUGE. Yesterday I read Once Upon a Time is having a mixed/black Rapunzel for episode 14 of 3rd season, and now this! Good week.

    Only thing that worries me is the hate that’s going to come not so much for a black Iris, but for what will probably be a black Wally. The Fanboys are going to flip… just thinking about it gives me a headache already.

    (I also love that Iris and Barry are going to be BFFs at the beginning. So cute).

  • Jon E. Christianson

    This is wonderful but oh god I am not looking forward to the backlash. BRACING FOR IMPACT.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    No, we just need a big sign that says, “Some characters’ backgrounds are specific and some aren’t.” :)

  • http://bayareageekguide.com/ Mike Chen

    I hope they work in a John Wesley Shipp cameo somewhere. I loved the CBS Flash series as a kid.

  • http://runt.org/ Adrian

    I’m so excited. :)

  • Anonymous

    More apt would be white guy cast as Blade. No need for deflector shields there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nuuni.nuunani Nuuni Nuunani

    I wish I knew anything about the character aside from the wally relation

  • Mark Matson

    Rapunzel? Huh. Skin color works fine, but if there is any defining characteristic it is Rapunzel’s long straight hair. It is a fairy tail, so I guess she might use some kind of mystic flatiron.

    Oh, I take it all back assuming… DREADLOCKS! That would be assume!

  • Michael McNinch

    Of course there is a huge difference between making a white character black* in an adaption and making a black* character white.

    White characters are treated as default anyway and we’ve got a billion of them. Taking one or two and adapting them into a minority to better reflect the dynamic of the real world is simply good logic and a good thing to do.

    Not to mention the chances are the source material has at least ten other white people that won’t get changed in adaption for diversities sake…

    Minority characters (particularly in important roles) are depressingly rare – taking one of the few and making them a white character is just in poor taste and insensitive. It’s not the same thing at all given how whites have all the cards in the world of movies, TV, and popular media in general.

    *This can also count for any marginalized group (black, LGBT, female, ect.)

  • BatiHoney

    There are no pictures out yet, so who knows, but I agree she should have ridiculous long hair, which could either dreadlocks or just straight black hair. We’ll see! And it’s OUAT, so magic or a different interpretation could be involved. The actress is Alexandra Metz.

  • Anonymous

    Johnny Storm bugs me more because he’s an iconic character but I would understand if Flash fans prefered that the characters looked more like the character in the comics. There’s a few black superheroes out there who are very good but networks and studios prefer changing some secondary characters and pretending they are diverse than giving black actors an actual lead.

  • Anonymous

    Well, the only thing that this will do, is assuming the series works well enough to generate a life span, that would mean that Kid Flash, Wally West will be black too.

    Beyond that bit of future casting, I don’t see changing Iris’s race will really effect the story.

    After all, it’s established DC Canon that Barry Allen’s descendant in the 31st century Jenni Ognats aka XS is of color, this just starts the pallet change a bit earlier.

  • KA

    That’s fine, however, I still don’t think it negates the need for original characters of color. How interesting would it be if Storm of the X-men got a movie, or Green Lantern John Stuart?

  • KA

    That’s fine, however, I still don’t think it negates the need for original characters of color. How interesting would it be if Storm of the X-men got a movie, or Green Lantern John Stuart?

  • Anonymous

    Plus, Danica Williams (the Flash of the “Batman Beyond” setting) is a character of color.

  • kbroxmysox

    I can only hope she’s written better than the ladies on Arrow. Laurel is horrible, Moira is a cliche, Thea is barely a character and Felicity is the very definition of “geek fantasy girl”. She might check every box to please the fans but deep down, if you really look at her, she’s a character without any depth or purpose outside of the men on the show.

  • Elias Algorithm

    I am looking at “psychology student” as a warning sign.

  • Anonymous

    Ouch. So Barry starts well and truly entrenched in the friend zone, huh? Poor guy. ;)

    (Everything else about this is awesome and is probably the minimum we should expect from new projects with old source materials)

  • Laura Truxillo

    Well…that’s nice, I suppose. Also nice if Barry’s actually going to be involved with Iris (I’m sorry, reading him and Patty is like being a kid when your parents start to date other people after a divorce).

    But the tiny, angry part of me won’t shut up and say, “Well…Wally’s wife was Koren American. Wouldn’t it be swell to see her too?” *siiiigh* I miss Wally and Linda. But Iris is a freaking amazing character in her own right. (Hell, even or especially after Barry was gone–she stepped the hell up and owned.)

  • Laura Truxillo

    Yeeeah, that’s…goody. Exactly what we need.

  • Ashe

    A part of me can’t quite get behind this, mainly because of Hollywood’s glaring double-standard about interracial relationships.

    You’ll see white men with women of color rather frequently, but you have to actively dig to find white women with men of color. I’m partially, “Yay! A black actress gets a film role in something other than a slavery film or a cheesy rom-com!” and another part of me is going, “Scared of seeing white women with black men, eh, Hollywood?”

    Mixed feelings, but this is still a good thing.

  • http://www.justplainsomething.com JustPlainSomething

    1. AAAAAAAAH POTENTIAL FOR WALLY TO COME BACK!
    2. AAAAAAAAH IMAGINING AMAZING QUIPPY AFRICAN AMERICAN ACTOR PLAYING WALLY!
    3. AAAAAAAAH ACTUAL DIVERSITY REPRESENTATION USING ICONIC CHARACTERS!

    Those are all good AAAAAAAHs, btw.

  • http://www.justplainsomething.com JustPlainSomething

    For the large majority of white characters, their whiteness neither defines them nor is it the most interesting part of their character.

  • TheChief

    So is Sue Storm going to be black as well or is Johnny now adopted or something?

  • TheChief

    So Donald Glover as Wally West?

  • GigawattConduit

    What identity has Johnny had besides being a womanizing hotshot pilot who sets on fire and died?

  • LifeLessons

    YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Catyuy

    I’m crossing my fingers that we get Wally and Linda on this show. I miss them so freaking much. I also hope the show eventually gives us Piper as their friend and Trickster as the Rogue who you’re never sure what side he’s on.
    My only issue with this casting call is that I love reporter Iris and that’s one way to bring in Linda, plus wasn’t her dad a scientist in the comics and that she was adopted? I loved everything about comic Iris and just want her to be awesome here as well and see all of her stories.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Aw, shoot, don’t start me on thinking of the Rogues, you’ll make me all weepy sad.

    It’s an old happy thought of mine, but I remember ages ago on some board or another we talked about the perfect Flash series. Something to follow up Smallville, with a high-school aged Wally stepping into the yellow booties of his mentor, just post-someheroicsacrifice from Barry. With Piper an Trickster exactly as you say (and the rest of the Rogues almost refusing to bother with him because it just “wasn’t the same,” So, new bad guys, with the old ones being morally gray-to-sometimes-good). I dunno, I think it would’ve been fun.

    But now I’m really iffy about anything DC does with the Rogues. I think they’re too serious a company just now to really do the Rogues justice, balancing that menace with that “just-some-guys” vibe.

  • Laura Truxillo

    Oh.

    OH.

    OH HOLY CRAP YES MAKE THAT A THING MAKE THAT A THING MAKE THAT A THING.

    I will totally watch the show just for that.

  • Catyuy

    I hate the new 52. There was no need for a reboot and all of my favorite characters got shafted by it and most of my secondary favorites disappeared or never existed. I’m bitter. I swear if this show doesn’t give me Wally I’ll be very upset (the YJ cartoon getting canceled also made me bitter). And Linda was such a strong character in her own right, plus she was Asian.

    The Rogues, I would love if Barry just gets off the wrong foot with all of them. He judges them quickly and harshly but they have a code and never break it. Then later, Wally manages to actually talk to them and they like the kid better. So when something happens to Barry (launch him and Iris into the future for half the season, then they come back and Bart shows up at the end of the season) they take it easy on Wally. Which leads to Piper becoming friends with him and Trickster retiring for a bit.
    Crap, I just realized Deadshot exists in this verse. *hides Trickster*
    Seriously, the Rogues are the most interesting villains outside of Batman’s but they’re less evil/crazy/destructive then them and have families and I love them all so much.

  • Edward Alcantara

    This is great but unfortunately it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll see a black Wally. Iris isn’t his biological relative – she was sent back in time and adopted by the Wests.

    However anyone who complains about there being a black member of the Flash family would do best to remember that Barry already has a half-black granddaughter in XS.

  • http://pearlrose86.livejournal.com/ Maggie

    As somebody who was pretty “meh” on the Flash spin-off, this has me genuinely interested. I love Iris, like a lot, so I’m glad she’s going to be a character, and this bit of new casting news has me extra-excited.

    I thought they were talking about Linda at first, because she’s always been a minority, but I really like the idea of Iris (and potentially Wally) going that way as well.

  • Angela

    Isn’t John Diggle’s wife white? The CW doesn’t seem to shy away from moc/white female pairings.

  • Angela

    This is cool news until you remember that more often than not, “Black” or “African American” descriptions for female characters usually means the actresses are light skinned and/or biracial (they don’t do this with black male characters). I can think of only one unmixed black actress the CW has cast in any of their shows. I will not be surprised if who they cast someone who looks more like Jurnee Smollett than say, Nicole Beharie.

  • alistaircrane

    Meh. I’m still pissed that they’re using Barry instead of Wally.

  • http://www.thenerdybird.com/ Jill Pantozzi

    Indeed, she is. Ex-wife now but they are seemingly back together.

  • Ben English

    Oh god the racists are going to go into full-on meltdown mode at even the possibility of Wally West being black.

  • Ben English

    …You know somehow I doubt they’ll retain that particular plot point for Iris. Either way they are already casting Iris’ dad as a black man so it’s safe to say that the West side of the family is black.

  • Ben English

    Maybe they didn’t want to double up with Barry and Wally both dating reporters? Assuming that Wally is eventually in their plans for future episodes.

  • https://twitter.com/dnwilliams dnwilliams

    Did you mean: Black Flash?

  • https://twitter.com/dnwilliams dnwilliams

    They flirted with the idea of a Chloe/Pete pairing in Smallville too.

  • https://twitter.com/dnwilliams dnwilliams

    “pretty “meh” on the Flash spin-off”

    How come? I’m crazy excited, especially now we’v e seen Grant Gustin in action and the team behind Arrow have really hit their stride with the show.

  • http://pearlrose86.livejournal.com/ Maggie

    Well, I’m only just getting back into Arrow. I stopped watching about 3-4 episodes into Season 1 because I found Laurel really, really irritating. I couldn’t separate her in the Arrow-verse from Dinah “Black Canary” Laurel Lance, one of my favorite comics characters of all time. Laurel’s not Dinah, and I couldn’t get past that.

    Now, I’ve heard really good things about Arrow and now that the first season is on Netflix, I’ve giving it another try. So far, it seems to be sticking — although I really wish Black Canary was around.

    (I know, spoilers and all but I’m not THAT FAR yet and I’m uncertain she’ll be “my” Black Canary. Irrational fondness for fictional characters and all. I feel similarly about Zatanna and Lois Lane.)

  • https://twitter.com/dnwilliams dnwilliams

    Considering how The CW likes to recycle its actors I’d imagine Tristan Wilds of 90210 is almost definitely Wally West.

  • https://twitter.com/dnwilliams dnwilliams

    Oh, Laurel’s still irritating. She is in the show a little less though, they definitely bumped her in favour of Felicity, which is a blessing. I almost dropped the show around the same time, but I usually try to give things at least a full season, and Arrow is *so* damn good right now, I’m really glad I didn’t stop watching. I think you’ll like Canary by the time you reach that point. Even if you don’t, there’s so much badassery in those episodes!

  • jpowers55

    You mean ex wife and they hardly spend time together.

  • regularman

    No the fuck
    it’s not. How about we create ORIGINAL black characters, or, I don’t know,
    “ADAPT” ORIGINAL BLACK CHARACTERS “FROM” the comics instead
    of changing characters races when ironically people say “race doesn’t
    matter”. It fuckin’ matters enough to change it.

    And don’t tell me they won’t or they didn’t do
    it to black characters and actors because they have! In a comic book movie no
    less. Spawn was the movie that the people in charge, behind the cameras, felt
    that one too many blacks on screen simply wasn’t a good thing for business, so
    they removed one of the black characters and made him white, Spawn’s/Al
    Simmons’ best friend, Terry-something. There’s your bullshit “reflecting
    diversity” excuse.

    Countless movies can’t even get made in
    Hollywood because Hollywood is too scared to give blacks or any non-whites
    prominent roles unless they play up to stereotypes, and you can have a thousand
    blacks in one movie if they all play inmates, or something else negative, but
    three, three black actors in Spawn in 1997 were three too many for New Line
    Cinema, a Hollywood film company.

    Please spare me that shit about
    “diversity”. They talk diversity and give throwaway roles like Perry
    White to Laurence Fishburne. You wanna reflect something? Let the last son of a
    destroyed planet be black. let his Earth love interest be black. Let the whole
    damn cast be black, and then we can talk “diversity” and
    “reflecting modern society/the world”, ’cause until then, it’s all
    just token roles and bullshit and hand-me-down roles that white people had
    already.

    I’m tired of pre-established white characters
    being made into the same exact thing, just not white, when people say that
    their race isn’t an issue or never was. Well if it was never an issue in the
    first place, then why change it? If there race wasn’t an issue before, has
    their race become an issue after the change? Did Perry White deal with any
    bigotry in Man of Steel? Did Kingpin ever even mention dealing with prejudice
    in DareDevil? If race truly doesn’t matter, and (if) it really isn’t broken,
    then why fix it? Why change it?

    All this tells me is that Hollywood, and
    mainly Hollywood, more-so than the comics industry, would rather adapt a
    character that is predominantly white, known for being white, and turn
    them/change them white, then adapt a character that is predominantly black and
    known for being black and bringing them into live action on TV or in film.

    That’s what it all boils down to. Please don’t
    confuse this shit with “diversity” or “reflecting modern
    society”. If they wanted to reflect “modern society” then
    Hollywood could do better than have more than 80% of their productions be
    predominantly white and have nary/barely 2 non-white characters of the same
    race in a show or in a movie.

    We can get a black Iris Allen, again, a
    throwaway role on a, let’s be honest, throwaway TV show (it is The CW) and yet
    no John Stewart. No Mister Terrific. No fucking Black Panther yet. No Icon or
    any of Dwayne McDuffie’s creations. Nothing. But we got black Perry White. We
    got black Kingpin. We got black Catwoman.

    Unless I am missing something, were any of
    those roles memorable? Were any of those movies memorable? Are they universally
    loved or praised? Did the race changing actually do anything for the BETTER?
    Weren’t these roles actually the only role in each movie that had a non-white
    actor in them and play them? Where’s the “diversity” in that? Where’s the “diversity”
    in having only 1 or 2 non-whites in a mainly all-white movie?

    In white people’s worlds diversity may man
    “one non-white person”, but when I hear diversity I don’t hear
    “let’s get 1 of this and 9 of that and call it a rap”. Heh,
    “diversity”. No leading black characters from the comics of any
    substance but we’ll change the insignificant white characters black. No
    offense, but fuck Iris Allen, even if she is Flash’s main squeeze.

    And I take back that slight of Iris Allen, because
    it’s not even anything against Iris Allen, no more than it wouldn’t be anything
    against an arguably “insignificant” character like Al Simmons’ best friend,
    Terry, but when you, Hollywood, blatantly show a fear of showcasing a non-white
    cast, of any race, particularly non straight white male, and you instead rather
    make, what I like to call “Trojan horses” – well-known and established white exteriors
    with pre-conceived notions and ideas, with black interiors, then I have to call
    foul.

    I thought of four characters, “four characters”,
    that were adapted to screen whom were black from the comic book and had not had
    their races changed to screen. Spawn, War Machine, Storm, and Blade. Four
    characters amongst a sea of white characters, main and/or supporting.

    Here I am complaining about the lack of black
    or non-white characters, and they can’t even get the greatest white woman of
    all time, Wonder Woman, a proper movie solo starring without having to
    indignify her to playing, what is essentially, Black Widow’s useless, thankless
    role in Iron Man 2.

    They can’t even do Superman justice, the
    greatest white character of them all. Heh, how do I expect them to do any
    non-straight white male character absolute justice?

  • http://www.justplainsomething.com JustPlainSomething

    Might I point out that Iris West is a HUGE part of the Flash’s story, a loved character by the fans and would potentially be a big part of the show considering her father is going to be in the show as a father figure to Barry? Oh yeah, and let’s not forget that this leads the way for Wally, Iris’ biological nephew, to be black or of mixed race.

    CLEARLY, the established POC characters need to be represented in the movies and tv shows. No one who is for the Iris news is disagreeing with you there. But why is it such a big deal for you to take a character whose whiteness is NOT her main characteristic or the focus of her character and give the role to a deserving black actress who could introduce the character to a new generation of fans? I don’t understand the outrage here.

  • http://www.justplainsomething.com JustPlainSomething

    The only reason I’d say no to that is that Glover is around the same age as the actor who plays Barry. BUT BUT BUT I really hope they find an up and coming young black actor to play a teenage Wally. That was literally my first thought of joy when I heard this news.

  • http://www.justplainsomething.com JustPlainSomething

    I definitely get that frustration and it’s another reason why representation needs to be something more than few and far between decisions. If the few biracial relationships on television are one particular way then they end up representing ALL biracial relationships, which is neither fair to the real people in those relationships nor the characters themselves.

  • Ashe

    Yeah. Being in mixed-race relationships comes with enough socially-prescribed bullshit, last thing we need is to be represented as walking aesops for monoracial couples and/or as fodder for fetishization humor and WACKY CONFLICTING stereotypes.