Meet Josie and the Pussycats, Riverdale’s New Black Girl Band

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The live-action cast for the new CW show Riverdale has been revealed! For a couple of weeks, Archie Comics have been providing us with updates surrounding the casting of Archie and the Gang, which includes, Jughead, Betty, Veronica, Reggie, and more. Hopefully, we’re just minutes away from getting our first view of the show itself.

Ashleigh Murray as Josie McCoy in CW's Riverdale.

Ashleigh Murray as Josie McCoy in CW’s Riverdale.

In February, two very important castings came into view. The first was the main character Archie, who will be played by KJ Apa, but then beside him was Josie McCoy, the lead singer and guitarist of the band Josie and the Pussycats. What makes this casting interesting and surprising (and all out amazing) is who they’ve chosen for Josie McCoy. The leader of Josie and the Pussycats will be played by Ashleigh Murray, an up and coming actress and too adorable to boot.

Now … Let’s state the obvious here. Ashleigh Murray is an African American woman, so it comes as a bit of a shock to see that Riverdale will have a African American woman playing Josie. In the comics and later cartoon, Josie is a caucasian red-head, but with this change it will mean a different representation of Josie and one I can get behind.

Josie and the Pussycats (Irie Hayleau, Ashanti Bromfield and Ashleigh Murray)

Josie and the Pussycats (L-R: Ashanti Bromfield, Irie Hayleau and Ashleigh Murray).

Riverdale has also cast two more African American women as the Pussycats. It should honestly be illegal for a band to be so cute. Irie Hayleau and Ashanti Bromfield round out the rest of the band. Irie will be Valerie, the bassist/tambourinist/singer and Ashantie will play Melody, the drummer. These ladies create and come together to form the heart that is Josie and the Pussycats. In the cartoon and comics, Valerie is an African American woman, but Melody is a Caucasian woman and blonde. Honestly, as an African American woman myself, who has also grown up loving and wanting to be a Pussycat. I couldn’t be happier to see this change.

Josie and the Pussycats were a big part of my life growing up. The biggest thing for me about this casting of Josie and the Pussycats is all about representation. It has and will always matter. In Archie comics, there was only Valerie to represent African American women. Later, there would be other characters, like Chuck Clayton and Nancy Woods, in the 1970s coming to Riverdale, but at first, there was only Valerie Smith.

The casting of The Pussycats is a very bold, different and smart move for the show. To make Josie and the Pussycats an all African American band is something of a dream; a great turning point for representation that was needed in Archie Comics.

With the changes made to Josie and Melody in Riverdale, the show is going in the right direction, allowing these characters and creators to try something different from we’re used to seeing. I admit, change is never easy, but Riverdale’s willingness to bring Josie and the Pussycats into this century with both eyes open to the possibilities and give them a new beginning as an all African American band is everything to love and more. It will be amazing to see these girls do their thing as this legendary band. It shows that the representation is there and that change is coming (slowly, but surely). It shows that this is the type of representation for people of color that is needed and wanted from fans. This is the kind of thing that creators should pay attention to. Whatever happens in Riverdale between these girls and the cast will be a delight to see and hear.

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About Author

Moving Image Columnist + Teacher of Cartoon Academy. Insha is a freelance + comic writer, film nerd and Crystal Gem from NJ. She enjoys cartoons, comics, b-movies and has very strong feelings about Kylo Ren. Stay Weird. ♡

11 Comments

  1. Insha,

    I appreciate this article so much. We’re so happy to have your support and excitement!

    Thank you.

    Hayleau

  2. Asha Bromfield on

    Hey! It’s Asha (I’ll be playing Melody). I was just scrolling online and I saw you blog post. The girls and I want to say thank you so much for your kind words, it truly means the world. Representation is so important and we are so freaking excited! Haha. Xoxo

    • Laura Harcourt on

      We’re so happy you both saw this! We here at WWAC can’t wait to see the show and watch Josie & The Pussycats kill it!

    • Insha Fitzpatrick on

      *squee* Holy wow! I can’t believe this. Thank you ladies so much for your kind words as well! You’re going to completely and utterly SLAY as The Pussycats and we honestly can’t wait to see it. ♡

  3. This is so cool!! I can’t wait to watch this show!

    I gotta say, Archie Comics definitely seems to try to keep their stories relevant. I loved the Josie and the Pussycats movie back in the day. (Compare that to how Jem and the Holograms the movie treated the same plot line.)

    Fully expecting these Pussycats to rock just as hard as the ones I rocked out to as a young adult ;3

  4. I’ve been revisiting Archie comics ever since I stumbled upon Afterlife with Archie last summer and I was hooked!
    So when I looked around the web to see what new projects the talented Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (yes he is going to be writing the pilot of the show) I stumbled upon Riverdale … and the major changes to some characters.

    While the women set to play Josie and the Pussycats in the new series are UNDENIABLY BEAUTIFUL (and I’m not just saying that) it still begs the question … why?
    Call me a purist, but I grew up reading the comics and in no way did I feel like something was missing because of the white girls in the band because they had VALERIE.
    She was smarter and had a stronger personality than both Josie and Melody. So why would you welcome this change as if Valerie was in some way inferior to these ‘white girls’?

    Honey I am sure by now you are both ‘triggered’ and ‘offended’ because I forgot to mention: I’M NOT WHITE NOR AM I MALE. So there. 😉
    I’m part Asian, part Black and I love it!

    While I admit that as a child, I’d be more drawn to either Asian or Black characters in cartoons and TV shows (Wanda and Keesha from Magic School-bus, Gi from Captain Planet, Shelby Woo, hell even Raven because in a way she was mixed like I am lol) I didn’t mind the *gasp* white female characters like Kim Possible, Nancy Drew …

    It’s the same with the new Nancy Drew TV show (which I will not bother watching) why do the executives feel the need to change the race of these white female leads that have been around and inspired girls of different races for decades?
    Why not introduce new, inspirational characters?

    Yes, you’ll probably think I’m ranting over nothing but I could the say the same for you- in my honest opinion you’ve raved over nothing.

    So just to make it clear that I’m in no way against having positive role models on TV for young ‘colored’ girls (though I don’t understand why parents aren’t stepping up to be good role models instead of letting a cartoon character do their job) and not ‘trigger’ or ‘oppress’ you any further, answer these questions for me, please:

    -‘In the comics and later cartoon, Josie is a caucasian red-head, but with this change it will mean a different representation of Josie and one I can get behind.’ Valerie wasn’t good enough for you?

    -‘These ladies create and come together to form the heart that is Josie and the Pussycats.’ Which is…?

    -‘The casting of The Pussycats is a very bold, different and smart move for the show. To make Josie and the Pussycats an all African American band is something of a dream; …’ You mean you’ve always dreamed of a Black girl playing the character of a stereotypical ditzy blonde?

    Please don’t be predictable and tell me ‘I don’t understand’ or ‘I’m just hating on my own skin and people’ … no, because all I did was state the obvious and my personal opinion. And I’d like to hear your UNBIASED answers to the questions I asked.

    Maybe you’ll delete my post or maybe verbally attack me, I’ve seen enough of those SJWs online that can’t take people with differing opinions. But I took the liberty of ticking the boxes so I could be notified of future replies.

    You have a good day now alright? ;))))

      • Lol, ikr?

        Thought I’d be a nice girl and use little abbreviations for you since you seem traumatised by my long comment. Hope you’re feeling much better now.

          • Write a little rant on misogyny on tumblr, I’m sure it’ll make you feel as good as new 😉

            No replies to my comment? No debates and justifying your excitement on race-switching comic characters? Nothing? Figures, lol.

          • Insha’s desire for and excitement over multiple black girls in Josie & the Pussycats doesn’t reflect poorly on Valerie. There are still white versions of Josie. There are still plenty of white characters everywhere, and new characters of many races are not in fact being argued against, here.

            Your extreme and disingenuous hostility is perplexing, to be frank.