Interviews

Getting To Know Javicia Leslie Of Batwoman

Photo Credit: Nino Muñoz/The CW (Left). The CW (Right).

Meet the new barrier-breaking Batwoman, Javicia Leslie.


By Nate Millado

"Look out, Gotham, I'm suited up and ready to go," ready to go," captioned Javicia Leslie on social media, wearing Batwoman's cape and cowl. Leslie admitted it was "weird" slipping into the suit for the very first time. "I looked in the mirror and said, 'Wow, like this is real. I'm a superhero!'" she says. "But I also know what this moment represents." The 33-year-old actress, who identifies as bisexual, is taking the reins of the lesbian crime fighter from Season 1 star Ruby Rose. But Leslie is making history as the first African-American woman to portray Batwoman in a live-action production.

Watch caught up with the Arrowverse newcomer.

Originally published in Watch Magazine, January-February 2021.

Batwoman airs Sundays at 8/7c on The CW. Stream next day free only on The CW.

Javicia Leslie as the new Batwoman stands in her Batwoman uniform holding the red haired helmet.

Photo Credit: The CW.

Has the weight of the role dawned on you yet? Do you feel excitement? Pressure?

All of the above! To know that this role represents so many people who have felt underrepresented, that has dawned on me. I don't look at it as a weight; I look at it as a blessing—so I'm really excited to be able to be a part of this story that's being told. You know, with Black Panther, watching how it really affected the world, especially so many young Black kids, dressing up like Black Panther on Halloween, doing the "Wakanda Forever." To see so many kids see their complexion
on-screen, doing things that they have probably never seen be done before, I think that matters. I have this belief that if you see it, you can be it.

The CW describes Ryan Wilder as "likable, messy, a little goofy, and untamed." Are you anything like your character—or the complete 180?

Oh, no. We're pretty much the same person. I wouldn't call myself the most polished person. There are times where Ryan trips in a scene and looks around to see if anyone noticed, and there are times when I trip on set. [Like Ryan,] I'm always finding the humor in things, always trying to find a way for people to see that there is a chance for hope, that there is a chance for "the good guy" to win, you know?

Javicia Leslie as the new Batwoman shows a knife wielding thug her moves.

Photo Credit: Katie Yu/The CW.

And Ryan is an entirely new character! What's it been like helping create her from the ground up?

Not just creating the character, but creating the character's entire life up to that point! Because if Ryan is 20-something, that's 20 years of backstory. It's been so much fun to really be able to find Ryan over the last few weeks. How she walks, how she talks, how she lands— because every superhero lands differently.

Were you already a fan of the Bat Universe?

I've seen most of the Batmans, and the one that resonated with me the most, I think for a lot of people my age, was The
Dark Knight
. I watched the entire series of Batwoman, as well, so to enjoy that as a fan first and now to have it as a job— I'm a kid in a candy store.

Batwoman stands in a dark alley wearing her full batwoman outfit.

Photo Credit: Katie Yu/The CW.

Is it true you were inspired by Eartha Kitt, who played Catwoman in the original Batman TV series?

I'm inspired by Eartha Kitt in general, not just as Catwoman, but also as an artist and an activist. She continued to speak even when women weren't "supposed to." I think that the world has created this idea of how women should act, and when you hear Eartha talk [in interviews], she's still regal and feminine and poised, but she broke the mold.

The most anticipated event of the season is the yearly Arrowverse crossovers! Who are you most looking forward to sharing a screen with?

Um, Black Lightning? Come on now! But I know that this is also Supergirl's last year, and it's Superman and Lois' first year, so it would be cool to share a scene with them. Any of these worlds that I can kind of jump into and vice versa would be amazing.

Bonus Round!

Javicia Leslie as the new Batwoman striking a closeup fighting pose.

Photo Credit: Nino Muñoz/The CW.

BIRTHPLACE: Augsburg, Germany

YOU'VE SEEN HER IN: CBS' God Friended Me

GUILTY PLEASURE: Twix and Kit Kats

FAVORITE MOVIE: Casper

KARAOKE SONG: "Zombie" by The Cranberries

HYPE SONG: "B**** from Da Souf" by Mulatto. "I play it right before I go on set as soon as I put on the Batwoman outfit."

EARLY BIRD OR NIGHT OWL? "Both! I like to stay up because that's when I can just sit down and watch TV or go out and ride my bike. But I like the daytime because I like to garden."

LIFE MOTTO: "Follow your passion and you'll find your purpose."

Originally published in Watch Magazine, January-February 2021.

DISCOVER MORE: Check Out The 15th Anniversary Issue Of Watch—Available Now!

Batwoman airs Sundays at 8/7c on The CW. Stream next day free only on The CW.

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