I’ve written at length about how wonderfully weird HBO Max’s Doom Patrol is. It’s truly a one-of-a-kind superhero show, slyly breathing fresh life into the superhero genre without folks ever noticing it. And while, for many, the characters Robotman, Elasti-Woman, Crazy Jane, or Negative Man may not necessarily be household names yet, the show successfully added a very popular hero to its lineup in its debut — Teen Titan and Justice League member Cyborg!
We’ve seen various iterations of the character before, but in my opinion, Joivan Wade represents the definitive live-action interpretation of the character. And now, recently, The Nerds of Color was very fortunate enough to sit down with Joivan to talk about the show, current events, and Cyborg’s impact as a Black mainstream superhero on fans of color today. Here’s what he had to say:
NOC: Thanks so much for taking the time to meet with us! How’s everything going? Hope you’re safe and keeping busy with the quarantine!
Joivan: Yeah! I can’t complain. I’m great to be honest. I just kind of used this time to get to a few things I’ve wanted to get to, but just didn’t have the time to do. But it’s been nice to be away from it all for a little bit. And have an opportunity to focus. I’ve been participating in the Black Lives Matter movement, and just trying to dedicate my energy and time to help create a better place and a better world!
I’m glad you’re doing okay, and thank you for contributing to a noble cause. I think together we can definitely change things for the better. I’d love to get into that further in a little bit, but first — I’m loving this season of Doom Patrol! This is a show unlike any other ever put to television. And the one thing I loved is that you guys get into the weirdest sort of engagements with different villains that are just so out there, and the show is unafraid to do it! However, this season is kind of different for Victor because you’re back in Detroit. You’re hanging out with Roni Evers. And by this show’s standards, that’s a little bit more “normal.” So I have to ask, do you miss the weirdness? Are your scenes a lot less crazy than they were the first season?
Ha! Yeah! I think in a general aspect things were a lot more crazy in Season One. But that’s been the beauty of it. I really wanted to — and it’s been a passion of mine with this role — show the “Vic Stone” side of Cyborg. And I think in recent versions we’ve focused so heavily on Cyborg, that we’ve not really got to the person underneath, and had those colors shine on bright. So this is a great opportunity to do that. Yes, as an actor I’ve missed the wacky and weird and wonderful, but that’s not going anywhere. And as much as I have my own journey this season, I do also have opportunities to be with the gang, and get back to that weird and wonderfulness. But it’s been nice to be away and really just focus on that “Vic Stone” vulnerability, which we don’t normally get to see in other iterations of Cyborg. So yeah I’ve loved it to be honest. It’s been great.
I’m really loving it myself. It was such a heavy season for you last season with Vic dealing with his dad and his anger issues, so having you really sort through that and find yourself as a character is really necessary!
100%! That’s the beauty of the show. You really get these opportunities. And though it is a superhero show, you really get to live with these characters… It’s not even a superhero show for Vic so far this season. And everything I’m doing with him [so far] are things in which I would have been doing in just a regular story, if you will. Just with a 100-pound costume on. So it’s been really great to unpack that and I’ve really enjoyed it. Hopefully you guys have too!
If I can compliment you, your acting was amazing last season, but now that you’ve sort of been getting a more introspective storyline here, we really get to see you pull up the drama and the trauma. And it’s fantastic to see you do that with such a wide, deep performance.
If I can also ask — Cyborg is one of the most iconic characters in the history of comics, not just because of how badass he is, but also because he came out at a time when Black characters were not always the norm. And he was one of the biggest Black main characters people could read in comics. What do you think that means to fans that are also Black — especially the younger ones? How do you feel about that, and how do you hope that your version of Cyborg contributes to how these fans are seeing themselves on screens and in comics?
I think, when I’m asked about what the best part is about playing Cyborg, my immediate response is that I’m able to represent and be a part of [comic book] history. And I don’t take that lightly because being able to play Cyborg, given how many iterations there have been before myself, is just a real honor — and not even looking across the DCU, but Cyborg being one of the most prevalent Black superheroes period — across the MCU, DCU, or whatever. There’s not many of us. And so being able to be that person and be that representation is beautiful. And knowing young Black men and women get to look and see themselves represented, and know there is a character for them who is strong, relevant, and Black is a dream. To be able to be put in those shoes every day I wake up makes me honored and grateful to be a part of that history, to be honest.
To me, you are the definitive version of Cyborg. When I read the comics, it’s your voice coming out the comic books! And knowing that kids who are Black too, look at a character like your iteration of Cyborg, it truly gives them something to look up to.
Thank you so much!
After playing one of the most prevalent Black superheros in comics, it sounds like it’s translating to real life, because it sounds like you’re involved in the Black Lives Matter movement. Have you been protesting and staying safe? And how has that experience been for you?
100%. I’ve been protesting both through creativity by creating, and also on the front line protesting on the days where there was a lot of heat. It was great to be a part of the protests. Being a Brit in the US, I’ve protested before on many occasions, but also in the UK, and being on the ground and smelling the air of what was happening was important for me. And in terms of protesting through creativity in the industry, I actually have a short film, which is coming out, called Wade in the Water, which is specifically about shedding light on the [Black Lives Matter] movement, which will be out in a few weeks. So yeah, I’m creating where I can and doing by bit physically on the front line to keep the conversation going, which is most important.
Now, I know you’re short on time, but do you have time for one more question?
Sure! Go for it.
So I’m getting really excited because next month, there’s a huge event called DC Fandome. Now I know you can’t talk much about it, but I’m hoping to see if you’re part of it, and if there will be a major Doom Patrol presence there. Do we have something to look forward to in terms of seeing you and the crew at DC Fandome?
Well I think that the DC Fandome is definitely going to be opening up to as many of our favorite characters as possible. I’m still waiting to confirm on what exactly the movement will be for the Doom Patrol, but I would assume that based on some of the other shows and stuff, that we’ll have some sort of presence there. I’m not sure what that’ll be at this moment, but I’m sure you can expect us to have a presence. And yeah, we’ll get into a bunch of stuff then. But not sure what that looks like. It’ll be a great event, and I think timely for fans, especially since there’s so much strong DC content going around on DC Universe and the launch of HBO Max and everything there. So lots to look forward to, and can’t wait for DC Fandome!
I’m so excited for that, and for the rest of this season to unfold, because Doom Patrol is literally unlike anything else on TV! Thank you so much for your time!
The current season of Doom Patrol is now airing on HBO Max and DC Universe! New episodes premiere every Thursday!