Ottawa-born actress Vanessa Morgan to star in hit Netflix series Riverdale
25-year-old could play show's first bisexual character in season 2
Canadians are going to see a familiar face when they tune in to season two of the hit Netflix series Riverdale this fall.
Ottawa native Vanessa Morgan has been cast as Toni Topaz, a new character Morgan says will "bring some trouble" for characters on the show, which is loosely based on Archie comic books.
When I found out I got it I was jumping up and down.- Vanessa Morgan
Morgan, 25, said she originally auditioned for the show's first season more than a year ago but didn't get a part. The show's creator, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, invited her back for another audition for the pink-haired comic book character named Toni.
"When I found out I got it I was jumping up and down," Morgan told CBC News by phone Sunday from Vancouver, where she is currently filming the first episode.
"I called my family and my brother; he watches the show, too. So everyone was just so pumped for me. It's great being on a show where most of my friends all watch it. Whenever I say Riverdale, everybody knows it."
So excited !! <a href="https://t.co/xuSTxUudQk">https://t.co/xuSTxUudQk</a>—@VanessaMorgan
Actress grew up in Ottawa's west end
Morgan is no stranger to the small screen.
She had earlier roles in the MTV series The Shannara Chronicles and in the Teletoon show My Babysitter's a Vampire. She also starred in the TV series Finding Carter.
In 2013, she was also a contestant alongside her older sister in the reality series The Amazing Race Canada. The pair competed against fellow Ottawa resident Jody Mitic — now a city councillor — and his brother, Cory.
As a kid she grew up in Crystal Bay, a neighbourhood in the Ottawa suburb of Nepean, and went to Colonel By High School. She later graduated from Queen's University and took up acting and singing.
Morgan said she feels this new role will open doors to bigger opportunities in her evolving acting career.
"I think it will have a huge impact," she said.
"I've been doing this journey in acting and singing since I was six years old and I definitely think this will take me to the next level — in movies. Just getting my name out there, and help [with] the hustle."
Character's sexuality to be explored
Riverdale airs on the the CW network in the U.S. and is available for Netflix subscribers in Canada. Morgan said it's been her goal for years to get on the U.S. network, which has been a launching pad for Canadian actors including Kristin Kreuk and Stephen Amell.
Since the news of her role was first reported by ET Online over the weekend, there has been much speculation in the media about whether or not Riverdale will have its first bisexual character.
I think it's great to have that type of representation on TV.- Vanessa Morgan
Morgan confirmed she will have Topaz's token pink hair from the comics, but couldn't divulge any more details about her character's sexuality. She did say the show's creator is interested in exploring Topaz's sexual identity on the show.
"I think it's great to have that type of representation on TV," she said.
Morgan said her last three roles have been lesbian characters, so it's something she would be familiar with.
"I definitely think this is something that will happen more often. I think television is very important to show all types of people and all the types of love in the world. People being bisexual is a reality. I have friends who are bisexual and it's nice for them to be able to watch TV and have someone they can relate to."
First day on set 'surreal'
While not wanting to give too much away, she said her character is part of the Southside Serpents gang and is a friend of Jughead Jones (Cole Sprouse), who dated Betty Cooper (Lili Reinhart) in season one.
"She's going to bring some trouble and some turmoil," Morgan said.
As filming for season two gets underway, Morgan has already had her pinch-me moments on set.
"My first day on set last week, it was crazy. After following the show, I snapped myself into one of the sets and I was, like, 'This is a trip,'" she said.
"I was literally watching this on TV and now I'm in the set that I've been watching for the past few months. It was a surreal experience."
Season two of Riverdale airs Oct. 12.