With the second season debut of “Batwoman” just days away, new star Javicia Leslie is opening up to Complex about taking on the role after original star Ruby Rose exited the show after just one season.
When The CW issued a casting call, Leslie embarked on a journey that began with what’s been described as “one of the most nerve-wracking auditions she had ever experienced.” Before she was officially cast, she then underwent several more rounds of testing in order to land the pivotal role.
“I was at home in the middle of praying when I got the call, because they were stressing me out. I knew I was one of the very few choices that they had narrowed it down to, but the closer it gets, the more stressful it gets, and I was just really happy to be chosen,” Leslie tells Complex.
In the second season, Rose’s Kate Kane is out of the picture, leaving Leslie’s character — Ryan Wilder — to become Gotham’s new Batwoman.
While the costume remains the same, the mask’s attached red wig has been replaced by an afro-style version, something Leslie said was an important aspect of the character.
“When we were first coming to the table, we looked at a lot of fan art and our show creator, Caroline Dries, sent me this fan art and she’s like, ‘What do you think of this?’ And there was a Black Batwoman with this big beautiful Afro and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, I would love this,’” Leslie recalls.
“It was important for us to represent being a Black woman as a Batwoman, and so the first wig was that straight red wig, which was beautiful because it represents Kate Kane’s Batwoman, but I think in my version of Batwoman, the big beautiful curly wig, is such a representation of a powerful Black woman. It reminds me of, back in the day, when Foxy Brown had her big Afro.”
As Complex notes, Leslie has become part of a sisterhood of Black actresses portraying superheroes on The CW’s various DC series, including Candice Patton (Iris West on “The Flash”), Jordan Calloway (“Painkiller” on Black Lightning) and Nafessa Williams (“Thunder” on Black Lightning).
“They go hard and I love them. They say, ‘That’s our Batwoman!’ They’re very protective of their Batwoman,” says Leslie. “I think I’ve been very transparent throughout the entire process of what’s going on and making sure they’re a part of this journey with me because they are, and because of that, people feel very much included in this journey and they’re rooting for representation.”
“Batwoman” airs Sundays at 8 pm ET on Showcase and STACKTV.