Javicia Leslie Is Inspiring a New Generation of Superheroes
In our Q&A series Last Call, we get down to the bottom of every last thing with some of our favorite celebs – from the last time they were starstruck to the last song they listened to. This week, Javicia Leslie takes our call.
Gotham’s villains never stood a chance against Javicia Leslie’s Batwoman. Following Ruby Rose’s unexpected departure from the CW series in 2020, Leslie has captivated comic book fans as free-spirited, ass-kicking superhero Ryan Wilder, aka the first Black and first openly queer Batwoman to appear on screen. In front of the camera, Leslie wears a pointed bat mask and flowing cape to fight villains like Poison Ivy and Cluemaster. Backstage, the cape comes off but Leslie takes her responsibilities as one of the first Black, LGBTQ+ superheroes just as seriously.
“Playing [Ryan Wilder] reminds the little girl in me that everything about me is OK,” Leslie tells POPSUGAR. “I remember growing up and feeling like hiding parts of me because I felt I didn’t see enough of it so something must be wrong. Seeing Ryan on screen reminds me that everything about me is perfectly fine. Same with every other kid growing up. I think that’s what this representation means. It’s a reminder that you’re fine, you’re good. Of course, we go through things and there’s battles that we fight, but you’re not in this alone. There are other people that are in your shoes. To me, that’s what Ryan is.”
“You think I’m the superhero? I play a superhero on TV. You’re an actual superhero in real life.”
Beyond reminding fans of their superhero status, Leslie also trains in Muay Thai, a martial art with an emphasis on close-combat, which comes in handy when she’s filming stunts for the show. “I was able to pick up choreography a lot quicker,” she says, adding that her favorite stunts are those where she’s hooked to wires and can see all of Vancouver, where “Batwoman” is filmed. “It created an original, personal Batwoman-fighting style.”
After months of action-packed filming, Lelsie is relieved to be able to relax and watch the series in real time with fans. “I’m shocked when other people are shocked and I’m reacting the same way that fans are reacting. I live-tweet every single time an episode comes out,” she says. “I’ve heard some of the fan theories and ships that have been shipped. I don’t really have an opinion. I feel I’m just along for the ride when it comes to it. I think I have an idea about what’s going to happen with some of these ships. I’m very excited about it, but I’m also the spoiler queen so I’m not going to take this opportunity and spoil anything.”
Bringing her superhero mindset with her offscreen, Leslie recently partnered with Puffs to honor the young, everyday superheroes at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center. The tissue company also donated 3,500 boxes of Puffs Ultra Soft to the hospital. “I felt the whole point of being a superhero in general is the idea that we’re for the kids,” she says. “I got to speak to children and remind them they’re the superheroes. You think I’m the superhero? I play a superhero on TV. You’re an actual superhero in real life. That’s what I want to remind everybody because what’s going on right now can feel very daunting, but the fact that we’re still here lets us know that we all have this superpower inside of us.”
As we await the season three finale of “Batwoman,” read the rest of Leslie’s Last Call interview ahead.
What was the last day on set for season three like?
[I spent] the last day with Nick Creegan who plays my brother, Marquis Jet. It was fun, action-packed, funny, very villainy. Lots of laughter, lots of me running around dropping off people’s stuff while transportation is waiting for me. I’m like, “Wait, I’ve got to give this person this, I’ve got to give this person that.” It was so much fun. We were really like a family there.
Besides “Batwoman,” what is the last series that you binge-watched
I binge-watch “Grey’s [Anatomy]” all the time. Besides “Grey’s,” I ended up binging a show with my friend, called “Twenty Something.” I don’t normally watch reality shows, but it was very entertaining.
Who was the last “Batwoman” cast member you texted?
It was definitely Camrus [Johnson] because Camrus and I talk all the time. I said congratulations because he got nominated for the NAACP Image Awards for his animated short [“She Dreams at Sunrise”].
What is the last song or album that you listened to?
“Tempest” by Jesse Cook. It gives me a little bit of a jazzy Merengue [feeling] and then I let Apple Music suggest everything from that point on. It’s a really fun playlist to go down.
What was the last song that you sang in the shower?
The last song that I remember singing was the song [“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler].
What is the last thing that you did for self-care?
A sound bowl meditation.
What is the last book that you read?
I’m reading it right now and it’s called “The Buddha in Your Mirror”. It gives real world applicable daily practices that you can use to ground yourself, but also obviously manifest the life you want in abundance.
What is the last thing that you ordered online?
A space heater. I literally ordered it last night . . . And then my last thing I ordered before that actually came yesterday. It’s this book about how to create a tea garden.
What is the last gift that you received?
I just got it yesterday. When I booked “Batwoman” I got to go into the “Los Angeles Times,” so The CW sent me this framed picture from my article. But what’s crazy is they sent [my mum] the newspaper and she framed it. She’s trying to send that to me so now I’m going to have two versions of it.
When was the last time that you were starstruck?
I just finished a project with one of my childhood favorites that I grew up watching. I love the show “Good Times” and there was this actress, her name on the show was Thelma, but her real name is BernNadette [Stanis]. She plays my aunt in a project that I’m doing right now. I was super starstruck when I saw her, a little shy. By the end of the project, we were like best friends.
What is the last piece of advice you received that changed your life?
Sometimes I feel like I deflect things that I need to do because of the fear of failure. The last piece of advice that I kind of remember feeling connected to was fear nothing but fear itself. I think it was me talking to myself through my free writing and journaling. I just journal all my thoughts and then by the end of it, I start to realize what the issue is . . . It’s a very well-known quote, but I felt like it came to me at a time that I needed it to come to me. It motivated me to do the things that I needed to do that day. I’m just trying to remind myself that every day.