There’s a lot of responsibility for “firsts” for representation in the media.
For The CW’s Batwoman, actresses Javicia Leslie and Meagan Tandy definitely feel the pressure to get their characters and their romance right. As the first queer superhero Black couple*, Leslie and Tandy understand their responsibility.
Leslie, who plays the title character Batwoman aka Ryan Wilder, feels like the show is a “walking responsibility” and is determined to get it right in terms of representation.
“We’re a superhero show,” Leslie explained via zoom during the WBTV’s “With Love” TCA panel on Valentine’s Day. “So, we’re geared to the imagination and that includes a lot of kids. So, it’s just really important for us. We speak about it all the time to make sure we’re constantly showing a positive representation for ourselves in our characters.”
Tandy, who plays former Crows agent Sophie, has been part of the series since the first season. After being closeted for so long (and even marrying a man at one point), Sophie finally opens up about her sexuality and her feelings for the previous Batwoman aka Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) and now with Ryan. Tandy revealed she has seen the effect that her character has done for the LGBTQ+ community, especially for Black women.
“The representation has been huge, especially amongst teenagers,” said Tandy. “This is the first time I’ve ever played a role like this and actually being online and talking to women and teenagers who are LGBTQ+ — and Black women at that — when they’re telling me all of their stories. This is not me just playing a character here — this is so much bigger than us. We’re actually doing something here. So, for me personally, it’s been kind of my mission to make sure I’m telling their stories the best I can and as authentic as I can, because this is absolutely huge.”
As for the characters’ relationship, Tandy reveals that Sophie is still going through a rollercoaster of emotions in terms of falling in love with two versions of Batwoman — especially after Kate left and Ryan entered the picture.
“With Sophie, she’s definitely been on the love rollercoaster,” Tandy shared. She joked that her character may have a fetish for the person in the Batwoman uniform. Asked if she was going to have her own suit in the series, Tandy revealed that she wasn’t told about any armor for her.
“The only suit that I’ve worn is really my Crows uniform and they got rid of that,” said Tandy. “For now, it’s just the suit of love.”
Batwoman airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW.
* The CW’s Black Lightning power couple Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Grace (Chantal Thuy) were the first women of color onscreen superhero queer couple on television.