The new Batwoman on the power of representation and role models

Actor Javicia Leslie
Actor Javicia Leslie

Javicia Leslie inspires us in a diverse LGBTQ community

Actor Javicia Leslie close up
Actor Javicia Leslie

You may recognize Javicia Leslie from the movie Always a Bridesmaid streaming on Netflix and BET’s The Family Business. Now, in Season 2 of CW’s Batwoman, Javicia brings her gifted acting, her vibrant representation of social justice, her strong image as a Black actress, and her drive to inspire others of all communities. I was thrilled to sit down with Javicia and I am so excited to be in her corner as she performs in this incredible role.

You are an incredibly inspiring woman. The first Black actress to play Batwoman, you must be floored!

Javicia Leslie: Yeah, very exciting. Very, very.

In today’s political climate, young Black boys and girls need role models and the LGBTQ community needs to see success in our circles. What message do you hope your role represents as Batwoman?

Actor Javicia Leslie
Actor Javicia Leslie

JL: It’s super important to have the power of representation. We have always felt that whatever we saw is the most that we could be. And for the longest time, we only saw Presidents that didn’t look like us, Vice Presidents that didn’t look like us. I think that roles like this give children the ability to see themselves on a bigger scale. It shows them that literally the sky’s the limit. It’s infinity. You can literally do whatever it is you want. There’s probably some very imaginative kids that say, “Oh man, I want to be a superhero when I grow up,” and now they can see one that looks like them, that it’s possible. I really think that that’s super important. I think representation in underrepresented communities is very important.

Previously you did work on God Friended Me, an arguably more faith-based production. What can you say to our readers who strive to reconcile their faith to their sexuality?

JL: You know, I love the character of Ali because of her journey. Her journey was feeling accepted in her faith as a lesbian. I think that that’s so important. When you’re connecting your spirituality to your truth, because your spirituality reality is your truth. And I believe God loves us all. He doesn’t have exceptions, “I love everybody, except…” We don’t choose who we love. We love who we love. I think that Ali’s journey to be accepted by her church and realizing that, “You know, if people don’t accept me, why don’t I just go to a place where I am accepted?” That’s when she ended up finding a different church that was way more inclusive, one more representative of who she is. That’s a lot of journeys for a lot of people when it comes to this issue and that’s a scary journey. You just have to constantly know your truth. You have to constantly know who God is to you and never allow the religious to impede on what you’re connected to.

In reading your bio, I’m fascinated by your work supporting our troops while producing your own play. What was that work like?

JL: Well, I worked for the Army. I had a contract where I would pay soldiers. I would pay soldiers based off of their time that they were stop-loss in Iraq when the war first started. I come from a military family, and to be able to serve the Army in any kind of way felt good, and to be able to work specifically with those soldiers who gave their lives to protect and serve and to keep us safe. That was very important to me. We also worked with the family of deceased soldiers. It really felt good to be able to come and bring their families some type of light, which was probably at the end of a very, very dark tunnel for them.

Actor Javicia Leslie in red
Actor Javicia Leslie in red

When it came to doing plays and things like that, you know, I was in D.C. and acting is something I’ve always loved. To be able to really find a way to still have that outlet in a very government run city, a very “business” city, to find a way to have arts and creativity was super fun when you do plays in the city. I directed them and one of my friends was creating them. It was just a way for me to be able to do something while I was there.

Your movie Always a Bridesmaid helped a lot of people cope with the onset of COVID-19. What did you learn in the filming that movie?

Actor Javicia Leslie
Actor Javicia Leslie

JL: That movie was so much fun. That was my first time in a while since being a lead in a project. I think it had been like four or five years since I was a lead in one of my projects. To really get back into that world again, you have to understand how important it is to lead with integrity and understand that everyone’s going to follow suit if you start off with leading with integrity. That’s something that I carry with me and Always a Bridesmaid was like that. It had the most amazing cast and crew and Yvette Nicole Brown, who was the writer of the movie, was so much fun to work with. And Trey Haley and ND Brown, who directed and produced the movie, they also directed and produced the Family Business, my other TV show. So we’re already kind of a family. It was just really cool to be able to connect all of these dots and create such a passion project. I love that it’s on Netflix now because now people have access to seeing it any time they want. I think it makes everyone smile.

Actor Javicia Leslie dressed in shorts with with boxing gloves
Actor Javicia Leslie with boxing gloves

We need more humanitarians like you these days. So, what’s next for you? You had the premier of Batwoman!

JL: So the premiere of Batwoman was January 17th. I also have a directorial debut. I directed a short called Black Excellence, which is streaming now! Other than that, I’m pretty much sitting still.

How can we stay connected to your work?

JL: I think the best for me is through social media, that’s where I put out everything that I’m doing. Instagram @javicia and Twitter @javicialeslie.