Why Taking Over Batwoman Is An 'Honor' And A 'Dream' For New Star Javicia Leslie

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When 2020 started, fans of The CW's Arrowverse already knew that Stephen Amell and the rest of the Arrow cast would be saying farewell, but it came as a complete surprise when Batwoman's Ruby Rose announced that she was bowing out of the superhero role for various reasons. Producers later announced that the role would be filled by God Friended Me star Javicia Leslie, giving the world the very first Black Batwoman. Leslie hasn't been able to say very much about taking over the superhero role, but that bubble of silence is now broken!

For Batwoman's panel during Day 2 of the all-day Warner Bros.' event DC FanDome, Javicia Leslie got to let loose when it comes to discussing her new role and why it is such an honor and a dream to bring new character Ryan Wilder to life. Here, the actress talks about how much she and Ryan share in common:

You know, when I read the character description, it was definitely me. I love the idea that it’s goofy meets badass meets a person that doesn’t like to be told what to do, a person that does not like to follow the rules. It’s really hard for me sometimes when it comes to like, ‘Okay, well you have to to it this way as Javicia’ versus what you have to do when you’re an actress and you have to present yourself. So I love the fact that Ryan is who I am, a hot mess. I’m really into action. This has literally been my dream. It’s so funny, because in May, I did an interview and I said one of my future goals, and one of my biggest dreams, is becoming a superhero. I wanted to be a Black superhero; I don’t get to see that that often. And then a month later, I become the first Black Batwoman. It really hits the nail on the head [to say], ‘Speak your dreams. Speak your affirmations, and truly just know that whatever you want to do, if you continue to move towards it, it can happen.’

While it's not immediately obvious if Javicia Leslie going public with her dream to be a superhero had any direct effect on Batwoman executive producers Caroline Dries and Sarah Schechter and their decision-making, but it was certainly a timely utterance in any case. News of Javicia Leslie's casting was revealed in July, though the ongoing pandemic made it hard to know at the time when fans might get to see her kicking ass in live-action. Speaking of, though, that whole being a badass element is also a huge part of why the actress is so pumped to get started on Season 2. In her words:

I love that it’s action. I love that I get to kick ass. I’m really into Muay Thai. I started Muay Thai two years ago, but when I had to move to New York for God Friended Me, I moved into kickboxing because the classes were a lot easier. SO I was laying out all of my stress on a bag instead of on a person. Getting to do that every day on set is going to be super dope.

Javicia Leslie's co-stars better watch out. Especially if it's revealed that Ryan Wilder is the kind of character that likes to beat everyone up, regardless of if they're a friend or foe. Bat-characters are complicated in that way.

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As a woman who is both Black and bisexual, Javicia Leslie is honored to get to showcase both of those sides of her identity in taking over as Batwoman's lead. Not just for her own shits and giggles, but because it means her character can now be seen as an inspiration for younger viewers to look up to, in the same way that she looked up to O.G. Batman star Eartha Kitt. Here's how she put it:

Honestly, It feels like an honor. It’s funny, because I was looking on Instagram, and I was just kind of scrolling through new followers, and I saw all these rainbows in the bio, and I just felt like a representation. I felt like exactly like what I always wanted to be, which is a role model. I feel honored. I feel excited. I feel like there’s so many little Javicias that didn’t have voices – so many little Black girls that didn’t have a voice. Little bisexual, bicurious, lesbian, gay, everything that just didn’t have voices, and I feel honored to be able to be a voice for my community and the entirety of my community. And then to play a character that represents my community in the same way, that’s not a common thing as an actress: to be a part of a community and play a character that’s part of a community. It feels really powerful and I feel like with everything that’s going on right now, this is what we need. We need to see representation, and I’m so thankful to Caroline, I’m so thankful to Sarah, I’m so thankful to Greg Berlanti and everyone at The CW, because this is what’s needed. Not just for me, I’m looking at the entire cast of Batwoman, and it is just representation!

There's much truth in the idea that just because Javicia Leslie is a Black LGBTQ actress, it does not necessarily mean that the roles she gets offered are for LGBTQ characters, or even characters where her race plays a noteworthy part. But it's all on the table with Batwoman, and fans are likely going to see some unique situations and character dynamics whenever Season 2 premieres in 2021.

Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more from DC FanDome, and try not to get too impatient waiting on Batwoman's Season 2 premiere date. Keep an eye out for everything hitting the small screen in the coming months with our Fall TV 2020 premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.