Titans actor Ryan Potter has criticized fans for their racist remarks about costar Anna Diop. When a set photo showing Diop’s Starfire leaked back April, people were quick to turn to the internet and express their anger about her new look. While some critiques were legitimate concerns about what looked like a the less than faithful adaption to the comic book character, others were insulting jabs at the actress’ appearance. A segment of vocal fans sent Diop a series of derogatory comments telling her that a person of color shouldn’t be eligible to play the character.
Titans is set to premiere later this year on the new DC Universe streaming service. Based on the Teen Titans comic by George Perez and Marv Wolfman, the live-action show will feature many of the characters audiences came to know on Teen Titans Go!. However, Titans promises a darker take on the beloved heroes, as seen in the SDCC trailer. The series will follow the band of young superheroes as they struggle with coming of age while simultaneously battling world ending catastrophes, including a possible showdown with the demon Trigon.
After initial skepticism, fans have shown increasing interest in the show. But some of the hype has been eclipsed by those complaining about Diop’s hiring. During an interview with AP, Ryan Potter, who plays Beast Boy, expressed his frustration at the hate speech Diop received.
“There’s a lot of fan cultures that I’m a part of and fandoms that I’m a part of and . . . ultimately if you’re a fan of a project, yeah, you’re gonna take it apart to its core and you’re gonna criticize it ’cause you, as a fan, love it and want it to be better and it could potentially be better. But at the end of the day, you don’t harass the actors and actresses for being a certain race or for doing a certain character. That doesn’t make any sense to me. These are people doing a job.”
He went on to note that while everyone should be allowed to speak their minds, racist or hateful comments are not right.
That’s the whole point of America, you know? Freedom of speech. To a certain degree. You know? Targeting, especially people of color, online . . . It’s absolutely mind-boggling to me that this is acceptable.
Diop responded to the comments, opting to take the high road. She explained that the leaked photo was not an accurate representation of the character. Considering how Starfire aka Princess Koriand’r is an alien from the planet Tamaran where most citizens have orange hair and skin, no actress could be expected to capture her look exactly. Both she and Beast Boy are going to need a lot of help in the special effects department to bring the characters to life. Although Diop has remained strong in the face of her critics, she did have to disable the comments on her Instagram account.
Sadly, this is just a continuation in the long trend of fans pushing against inclusion and attempting to force actors into hiding. While comics have introduced readers to many wonderful characters, they haven’t had the best track record when it comes to diversity. As that begins to change, there are going to be more actors who don’t exactly match the original character design. But most fans want to see more characters who look like and represent themselves. So hiring Diop as one of the Titans is a step in the right direction.