We’re more than excited to talk about the new addition to The CW’s superhero family in the form of Black Lightning. Premiering in the Spring, this exciting new member of The CW’s already star-studded lineup is all about family. When we caught up with the cast at San Diego Comic-Con, the conversation was centered around the Pierce family and was based on some speculation.
Despite only seeing the pilot script, the cast and creators were excited to embark on the task of portraying the first black superhero family on television. Leading man Cress Williams who will be embodying the role of Jefferson Pierce, the eponymous Black Lightning himself, described the role as a dream come true. “I’m just trying to take it in and enjoy every single moment,” Williams remarked, referring to every landmark he passes in the creating of the show.
And while we will be coming in on Black Lightning after he has already gained credibility as a superhero and retired his mantle, the show centers around his two daughters taking on the mantle of Thunder and Lightning and that being part of the impetus for Jefferson jumping back into the suit. “He’s trying to discourage it every step of the way because it’s dangerous,” Williams says. “So, I think he would want them to have more education. But they’re adults.” His daughters are his main inspiration for jumping back into action, Williams explains.
Completing the parent dynamic is Christine Adams’ Lynn, who is Jefferson’s ex-wife. Having known about Jefferson’s powers since college, Adams suggests that Jefferson’s powers were one of the main issues of their separation, as we might expect.
With the revelation that their children have inherited Jefferson’s powers, Adams comments on a parent’s reaction to such a reveal.”[The children are] young, so we need to teach them how to use those superpowers,” she said. And despite their best efforts, Lynn and Jefferson seem to encounter one of the largest hurdles of parenting in the worst way. “How do you navigate that?” she asks, on the topic of superpowers and becoming a superhero. “You do one thing, you want your children to do another.”
Playing the elder of the two Pierce daughters, Nafessa Williams is more than ready to take on the role of Anissa Pierce, who dons the mantle of Thunder. Thunder, in the comics, is a part of the DC Comics group the Outsiders, a group that boasted illustrious members from Batman and Katana to Anissa’s own father, Black Lightning. Later members even include characters like Nightwing and Arsenal — who you’ll remember once held a place on Team Arrow, played by Colton Haynes — given the importance of the group in the Pierce family history, it seems likely we’ll see some iteration of this crime-fighting group.
“I just want to stay true to the story of Black Lightning and to that world,” Williams said, emphasizing the desire to stay loyal to the source material. “I’m going to commit to it and go all the way.” Pulling from the massive universe of inspiration, Williams credits the inspiration for Anissa to characters like Catwoman and Wonder Woman, and of course, Supergirl.”[I wanted] to bring my own flavor, but just watching how they maneuver through their world as strong women and bringing that strength through of who I am as a woman.” On top of those inspirations, Williams also brought some of herself into Anissa, “I have a lot in common with Anissa, she’s very strong, she’s very determined, and I just wanted to bring some of those qualities of myself into her.”
Described as the more independent and rebellious daughter, China Anne McClain steps into the shoes of Jefferson’s younger daughter, Jennifer Pierce. She’s adopting the moniker of Lightning and McClain describes her as a character who isn’t just there to be responsible, but also to have some fun. “It’s just awesome,” McClain excitedly remarks on playing Jennifer. “I just came from playing a supervillain in Descendants 2. So, now, to play a superhero is just like insane. Awesome.”
The show is described as a darker show than most on The CW network by McClain, whose character will start the show without her lightning powers and just as a regular teenager. McClain talks about Jennifer’s frustrations when she discovers her powers and the inability to control the electricity that ends up short-circuiting things like her phone.
“It’s not your ‘perfect’ family, but it’s also not all broken,” McClain says, commenting on the PIerces and how they represent a very real family dynamic. And despite its connection to the other DCTV shows, Black Lightning deals with a sociopolitical climate that we just don’t see in any of the other four shows. It sets the show apart without preaching to its audience, “we deal with some very real stuff, some very real issues. That’s the part that I think is really gonna resonate.”
Black Lightning is set to premiere in 2018, keep an eye on The CW for more!