Javicia Leslie takes on Batwoman role
LOS ANGELES (AP):
When Javicia Leslie moved to Los Angeles, she frequently rode down the popular Sunset Boulevard to view the row of erected TV and film billboards for inspiration. As an aspiring actor, she often parked underneath her favourite ones to study before an audition.
For years, Leslie made this her routine in the hopes of one day seeing her image on full display in Hollywood. Her dreams ultimately became reality when the 33-year-old actor -- who starred on CBS's God Friended Me and Carl Weber's The Family Business on BET+ - recently saw a billboard of herself donning the black-and-red Batwoman suit.
Leslie will star as the caped crusader on CW's Batwoman, which premieres its second season on January 17. She succeeds Ruby Rose, becoming the franchise's first black actress to portray the superhero.
In Batwoman, Leslie plays the role of Ryan Wilder, who spent years as a drug runner while dodging Gotham police. Her character has lethal hand-combat skills, but is viewed as a kind-hearted person who lives in a van with a plant.
In a recent interview, Leslie spoke to The Associated Press about carrying the mantle as the new Batwoman, the importance of the character being a lesbian, and having a conversation with her mother about her sexual orientation. Answers have been edited for length and clarity.
QUESTION: What compelled you to study for your roles under billboards?
Leslie: I needed that visual to remind myself of what the end goal was and what I really wanted. It just motivated me. It was fun. Sometimes, I'd study until I fell asleep. Like, I had to wake up and drive back home.
QUESTION: So this is something you manifested?
Leslie: I feel like everything I'm living right now, I've spoken into existence. From the very beginning to the detail. Even with Batwoman, I did an interview in May and I was asked what role I wanted to do next, and I said, "I want to play a superhero." ... The following month, I got the audition. I didn't even know they were looking to cast a new Batwoman. So, I truly believe in manifestation.
QUESTION: What does being DC's first black female lead superhero mean to you?
Leslie: You know, I always just remind myself that my purpose isn't for me. My purpose is to empower other people. God brought me here for a reason. He put me in this position for a reason. With that, it's nothing to fear, because I know this will empower someone to see a black female superhero. You don't get to see it often. It's so epic. I grew up on Batman and Catwoman and the Joker and Penguin. Now, to see blackness in that, I think it's very inclusive. Very empowering.
QUESTION: What's the importance of this character to be a lesbian?
Leslie: It's important to have representation in general. Fans of DC represent everyone, whether it's about race, whether it's LGBTQ. I think what I love so much about my show is that every character is really a great representation of everything.
QUESTION: Before telling your mom about landing the Batwoman role, you informed her about your sexual orientation as a bisexual. How was that convo?
Leslie: I never had a fear of talking to my mom about anything. It's to the point where I don't have to talk about a lot of things. She already gets it. She already knows. So when we had a conversation, she was like, "I am your mother. There's nothing you can tell me that I didn't already know." My mom, that's my best friend. She's very supportive.