Black Lightning’s Cress Williams Hopes The Show Adds Diversity to Superhero Television

by Ari Bard
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Black Lightning is the newest show in the DC Universe to premiere on the CW, and it is also the first DC comic book show to be led by a black actor and showrunner.  The show is trying to add themes of social justice and representation to the comic book-action in order to keep the character of Black Lightning more down to Earth.

The Comic Genre is taking over television and cinema, and the Black Lightning cast and creators, including star Cress Williams, hope that the show will inspire more diversity in the future.  Black Panther, Luke Cage, and Black Lightning have all premiered recently or will premiere soon, and they all speak to the potential of including more diversity on-screen.  Cress Williams hopes that the diversity will only continue as more characters begin to have their stories told on the big and small screens.

At the DC in D.C. event earlier this month, Williams mentioned how excited he was to be able to play a superhero, and how few characters there are out there for him to play.  Luckily, Black Lightning was a superhero Williams found he could identify with saying,

“I grew up every Saturday morning getting up at the crack of dawn to watch Super Friends. And even as an adult, enjoying Justice League and Young Justice. I remember the old X-Men series, I have been huge fan of all that stuff. But not seeing myself represented. And even as an actor, when I was like ‘I want to be a superhero’ I had to start going through and saying ‘Okay, there’s a short list’ and all the sudden it was like ‘Well, Luke Cage went away` and then it was like ‘Black Panther went away’. I kept hoping they would do John Stewart and that hasn’t come about yet. I wasn’t really aware of Black Lightning growing up, so it was a pleasant surprise to see it happening. Once I saw the character I fell in love, I was like ‘Wait, I like this character better than all of them!'”

Williams see the show doing a lot of good for marginalized characters in comics, film, and tv, and stressed the importance of being able to look at character on-screen and see a part of oneself in them saying,

“I hope that it sparks an appetite for everyone to see more diversity. I’ve said it before, I want our show to go a long time and be very successful, but I hope it sparks someone wanting to tell the story of an Asian superhero, someone wanting to tell the story of a Hispanic superhero. I want little kids out there to all have someone to identify with and see themselves. The confidence and self-esteem that is built when you can see yourself and when you have that choice for Halloween. When you’re a kid and you played pretend, and you’re like ‘I wanna be Superman, or I wanna be Batman’ but to be able to say, ‘I want to be Black Lightning’ or any other superhero ‘I wanna be Blue Beetle’ It just does so much for a human’s spirit. I hope that this is just the beginning.”

Black Lightning can be seen on Tuesdays at 9:00 P.M. EST on the CW.

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