Titans star Anna Diop has responded to harassing messages and comments she received after photos of her in-costume as Starfire were leaked to the public. The photos, which are fans’ first exposure to Diop’s Starfire, have been polarizing, with the worst reactions resorting to unnecessarily derogatory language and stereotypes. Diop presented her response on Instagram today alongside a photo of herself.
In her statement, Diop singled out self-proclaimed Titans fans who took the leaked photos as an opportunity to make racist and hateful comments about her. According to Diop’s statement, the leaked photos were unfortunate because they presented her Starfire in the worst possible light: half-costumed on a street corner in frigid weather and sans the post-production work that has become a requisite for all modern superhero television series at this point.
The comments levied at Diop have underscored resentments that are alive and well in the comic book fandom, as well as the danger of leaked set photos that audiences may assume are finished products. Plenty of actors have endured similar ridicule at the hands of fans all too ready to believe the worst, chief among them being Brie Larson, who took a great deal of flak after a leaked set photo showed her wearing a green Captain Marvel suit, and Zacahary Levi, whose Shazam costume has been leaked several times and met with criticism around every corner.
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Diop also faces hurdles beyond a mere unappealing costume shot, as she is a black woman stepping into the role of a character whose skin tone is traditionally lighter in the source material (to say that Starfire is white would not be wholly accurate, as her comic book origins establish her skin tone as an alien orange). Commenters were eager to point out that her hair and jacket combo (the jacket appears to be a production courtesy due to the frigid temperatures of the shoot) made the actress look like a “hooker” or “drag queen,” among other racially coded insults. It is also worth noting that photos of Brenton Thwaites as Robin were leaked at the same time, but Diop ended up bearing the brunt of the hateful comments.
Titans stars Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson, Anna Diop as Starfire, Teagan Croft as Raven, Ryan Potter as Beast Boy, Alan Ritchson as Hawk, Minka Kelly as Dove and Lindsey Gort as Amy Rohrbach.