New 'Batwoman' Star Javicia Leslie Says She's Pulling Inspiration From Eartha Kitt

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Javicia Leslie
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New Batwoman Javicia Leslie made her debut at DC FanDome on Saturday during the "BAWSE: Females of Color Within the DC Universe" panel celebrating actresses of color and the superheroes they play.

Leslie took over the Batwoman role in July, replacing star Ruby Rose who left the The CW drama after just one season. Leslie will play a new character, Ryan Wilder, who will become Gotham's hero after Kate Kane's disappearance.

"I've always truly admired Eartha Kitt, but I admire Eartha Kitt even outside of acting. I love her for her activism and the fact that she used her art for activism. And just her mentality in general," Leslie said of the first Black Catwoman during the panel. "The things that she would say and how dynamic they were and the power that she had as a woman."

Though Batwoman doesn't harness traditional superpowers, Leslie -- who is the first Black actress to play the character in a live-action TV series or film -- said there's power in that too. 

"I do have the ability to put a mask on and do things that I feel other citizens are too scared to do, based off of them ruining their reputation or it putting their family in danger," she said.

According to the official character description, Ryan is likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed, and the complete opposite of Kate. With no one in her life to keep her on track, Ryan spent years as a drug runner, dodging the Gotham City Police Department and masking her pain with bad habits. Today, Ryan lives in her van with her plant. A girl who would steal milk for an alley cat and could also kill you with her bare hands, Ryan is the most dangerous type of fighter: highly skilled and wildly undisciplined. An out lesbian. Athletic. Raw. Passionate. Fallible. And very much not your stereotypical all-American hero.

“I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community," Leslie said in a statement when her casting was announced.

In another DC Fandome panel, "Legacy of the Bat," on Saturday, Leslie shared that she found out she got the Batwoman role "about an hour before everyone else." And it wasn't until she read an article stating that her casting was historic where "everything changed" for her. 

Batwoman will return to The CW in January 2021.

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