Ahead of their Comic-Con International in San Diego panel, the makers of Riverdale announced an exciting character from the Archie comics would join the scintillating series: Toni Topaz. Vanessa Morgan will play the ravenous pink-haired teen. And while she wasn’t on hand at Comic-Con International, CBR spoke with the cast and creators about Riverdale‘s latest addition in a series of roundtable interviews.
Archie aficionado and Riverdale‘s Jughead explained, “Toni Topaz is a character in the comics, who was a rival of a Jughead in an eating contest, in the more pure ‘digest’ world.”
Executive producer Sarah Schechter, describes Toni as, “sort of a female Jughead,” who is a “really smart, opinionated woman from the Southside.” On Riverdale, Toni will be a teen member of the Southside Serpents, and attends Southside High alongside Jughead, the gang’s newest member.
“We needed, narratively, a single character on the Southside for Jughead to have an interaction with,” Sprouse said. “And she became the perfect pick for it.” He also revealed Toni becomes a “peer mentor” to self-proclaimed weirdo, adding she is “either temptation into the Serpents, or something to stay away from.”
But what will Jughead’s girlfriend Betty make of his new friend? In an interview with Riverdale‘s Betty and Veronica, Lili Reinhart and Camila Mendes, the former described Toni as “a beautiful, young, talented girl.”
To this Mendes added, “She shares common interests with Jughead.” So will Toni and Jughead’s bond threaten Betty and his relationship?
“At first she doesn’t pose much of a threat,” Reinhart said. “Because Betty, she’s not petty. She’s not thinking about that. She trusts her man, totally, like, ‘Nothing to worry about.’ But that may change.” After all, even if Toni doesn’t have eyes for the crowned cutie that’s got fans swooning, Betty’s worried look in the season finale communicated she’s not thrilled with Jughead getting involved with the gang that led to his father being arrested, and Jason Blossom getting killed.
Of course the other big news in Toni’s appearance is that she officially brings the promise of bisexual representation to the series. Sure, Moose was painted as bi-curious in season one, and Betty and Veronica locked lips. But it seems that Toni will be openly bi, a step forward for LGBTQA representation on the series.
Schechter noted that bi characters aren’t new to the CW line-up, stating, “We have bisexual characters on Legend of Tomorrow, which I also worked on.” For the busy EP, having a bi character not only better reflects the world teens are living in today, but also opens up more story possibilities. “It’s an opportunity for more different love triangles and love stories,” she explained. “Certainly we deal with it in all of our shows one way or the other. It just means more people for people to have crushes on.”
Considering the enigmatic comment made by Madelaine Petsch about her character’s love interest in season two, it’s possible Toni won’t be crushing on Jughead, but maybe the fierce and fashionable Cheryl Blossom? We’ll find out when Riverdale returns this fall.
Look for more from our roundtable interviews with the Riverdale cast coming soon.
Returning October 11 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, Riverdale stars K.J. Apa as Archie Andrews, Lili Reinhart as Betty Cooper, Camila Mendes as Veronica Lodge, Cole Sprouse as Jughead Jones, Madelaine Petsch as Cheryl Blossom, Ashleigh Murray as Josie McCoy and Casey Cott as Kevin Keller.
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