'The Flash' 's Candice Patton Says She Wanted to Leave in Season 2 Due to Being 'Severely Unhappy'

Patton claims she received racially charged messages from viewers early on during her time on The Flash and that "there were no social media protocols in place to protect" her at the time

The Flash -- "Masquerade" -- Image Number: FLA713fg_0007r.jpg -- Pictured: Candice Patton as Iris West - Allen -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss
Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW

Candice Patton is getting candid about her early days on The Flash.

On a recent episode of The Open Up Podcast, the actress, 34, revealed that she wanted to leave the series "as early as" Season 2 due to being "severely unhappy." At the time, she recalled receiving racially charged messages from fans online after making her debut as Iris West in 2014.

"I remember being like, 'I can't do this. I'm not going to make it through. I don't want to be here,' " she said of her headspace during the beginning of her time with the show, which has been airing for eight seasons.

She said that as a Black woman, the role came with a lot of "responsibility" and that she experienced "backlash" from fans who "can be racist." She also claimed that she didn't receive "help" from others in the workplace.

"At the time, it was kind of like, 'Yeah, that's how fans are, but whatever,' " Patton said on the episode.

She continued, "Even with the companies I was working with — CW, Warner Bros. — I think that was their way of handling it. I think we know better now. It's not OK to treat your talent that way, to let them go through abuse and harassment. But for me in 2014, there were no support systems. No one was looking out for that. It was just free range to get abused every single day."

She added, "There were no social media protocols in place to protect me; they just let all that stuff sit there."

The Flash -- "Phantoms" -- Image Number: FLA809b_0041r.jpg -- Pictured: Candice Patton as Iris West-Allen -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- (C) 2022 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights ReservedPhoto Credit: Bettina Strauss
Bettina Strauss/The CW

As for the changes she wants to see, Patton emphasized, "There has to be people in positions of power who understand my experience and understand the Black experience, the Black female experience who can say, 'OK, she needs protection.' "

She said, "In the real world, we are not protected," adding: "If I get pulled over at 2 a.m. in Jackson, Mississippi, by a white cop, do you think he gives a s--- that I'm Candice Patton from The Flash? It doesn't matter."

"We still need protection because the world sees us in a certain way. So when I step onto set and everyone working around me is white ... I'm not protected; I will never be protected. And that's not to say that these people have bad intentions ... but they have blind spots. They have a lot of blind spots, and that can also contribute to my harm. It's been a learning experience, I'm sure, for companies and corporations and productions," she said.

Along with the lack of protection, the actress claimed that she was not treated equal to her non-Black counterparts. In the episode, she alleged that she was not initially followed by the official Flash account on Instagram.

"I remember asking my publicist, I was like, 'Do you think you could get The Flash account to follow me?' " she said. "Back when I cared about that s--- and wanted to be included."

Never miss a story — sign up for PEOPLE's free daily newsletter to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Despite not feeling supported, the actress said she stayed due to contractual obligations and because she felt "a huge responsibility," adding: "My fans loved this character."

She explained, "It was such an iconic casting, such an iconic role, and I knew how much this meant to so many people that I felt a responsibility to stay in a space and a place that was probably very toxic for my mental health."

The Flash -- "Heart of the Matter, Part 2" -- Image Number: FLA718fg_0007r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Candice Patton as Iris West - Allen and Grant Gustin as The Flash -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Bettina Strauss/The CW

Representatives for CW's The Flash and Warner Bros. did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

Patton recently signed on for a ninth season of the show, according to TVLine. She remains one of the only original cast members still on the series alongside Grant Gustin and Danielle Panabaker.

RELATED VIDEO: Meet The CW's Newest Superhero: 17-Year-Old Kaci Walfall Stars in New Comic Book Series Naomi

The news comes after it was revealed in April that Jesse L. Martin would be stepping down as a series regular.

The Arrowverse series has also made several additions including Danielle Nicolet as Cecile, Kayla Compton as Allegra, and Brandon McKnight as Chester.

Related Articles