Candice Patton says she felt unprotected by the CW during early days on 'The Flash'

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A woman wearing a red turtleneck smiles for cameras at a red carpet event.
'The Flash' star Candice Patton spoke about her negative experiences in the early days of the CW show. (Jordan Strauss / Invision / Associated Press)

Candice Patton did not have an easy start as Iris West on "The Flash."

The actor said recently that her early days on the CW show included racist backlash on social media and recalled how she felt the network and the studio, Warner Bros. Television, did not do enough to protect her from harassment.

"There were no support systems, no one was looking out for that," Patton said on the latest episode of "The Open Up Podcast." "It was just free range to get abused every single day because it's happening regardless."

Upon joining "The Flash" cast in 2014, Patton received racist comments from comic book fans for her portrayal of Barry Allen's significant other, Iris West. Patton is Black; West was depicted as white in the original comic books. She recalled that neither the CW nor Warner Bros. had any "social media protocols in place to protect me."

"It’s just not enough to make me your lead female and say, ‘Look at us, we’re so progressive, we checked the box,'" she continued. "It’s great, but you’ve put me in the ocean alone around sharks."

Patton said she noticed she was being treated differently. She said she would she would not receive promotions "in the same way they would promote other people sometimes" and said she had to go through her publicist to get the show's official Instagram account to follow her back.

"Those were the things that not necessarily hurt me but frustrated me," she said.

Eight seasons later, Patton is still on the show. Now, she said, "It's more leveled out."

The actor said she initially wanted to leave "The Flash" as early as its second season but stayed on because she felt a "huge responsibility because my fans loved this character."

"I knew how much this meant to so many people that I felt a responsibility to stay in a space and place that was probably very toxic for my mental health," she said.

Representatives for the CW and Warner Bros. Television did not comment.

Patton isn't the first actor to come forward with allegations against the CW. In October 2021, former "Batwoman" star Ruby Rose said she experienced toxic working conditions while on the CW series. Rose abruptly exited the show in 2020 after one season.

Rose alleged that former Warner Bros. Television chairman Peter Roth forced them to return to work after having surgery for two herniated discs following a stunt injury. They also alleged that Roth threatened to recast the lead "Batwoman" role.

Warner Bros. TV dismissed Rose's claims as "revisionist history."

In May, the CW made headlines after canceling a whopping seven series from its original programming slate, a number of which featured diverse casts. "Batwoman," "Legacies" and "Naomi" were among the canceled shows.

Spared from the bloodbath was "The Flash," which will return for a ninth season.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.