Javicia Leslie on Becoming the First Black Batwoman & Filming in Vancouver


Meet Javicia Leslie, your brand new Batwoman. This Sunday, the L.A.-based actress will take the mantle as Gotham's caped crusader on the second season of The CW series Batwoman, replacing the show's original star, Ruby Rose (a.k.a Kate Kane). She'll play a new character assuming the cowl, Ryan Wilder. Leslie is the first Black woman to play the iconic role of Batwoman in the DC franchise and is using the opportunity to inspire and empower others. Her character will also represent the LGBTQ community as Wilder navigates her sexual orientation throughout the series. 

This week, Leslie told us what playing the role of Batwoman in the hit series meant for her and for others. Complex Canada’s Alex Narvaez caught up with the actress to talk about cultural representation as a Black female superhero, diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry, and what it was like shooting the show in VanCity.

I know you spend a lot of time in Vancouver. You’ve been shooting the show there. Are you in Vancouver right now?
Yeah, I am. I just got here about a week ago, so I’m in my 14-day quarantine that we have to go through when we come into the country. This way, you know, my energy can still look very professional but yeah, I’m actually in my apartment and I don’t have shoes on.

How has Vancouver been? I mean, with quarantining. How has your experience in Canada been?
Well, this is actually my second time because, you know, we went through the first half of the season and then we just went home for two weeks for our break, which was so needed. Coming up here for five months and not being able to see any family, it can get difficult after a while, but we have such a great support system here with our crew and our cast. I do feel like I have a family here. When I was here the first time around and I wasn’t in quarantine, I was able to get out and I got to go on hikes. I have a pit bull, he’s pretty big, so to be able to take him on hikes, off-leash, and get to see him run around like a maniac, we don’t have that in L.A. We have hikes, but a lot of them are off-leash trails, so to be able to see him in this rainforest atmosphere and experience all of that... I’m from the East Coast, so I’m used to more of that type of feel, but he had never been in any of that, so that was cool. 

The dope part of Vancouver is like, there’s this mix. You can go somewhere and be in the forest and then you can literally go five minutes and be at the beach. I’ve done the beach, I did the water paddling, like in the water that’s near Downtown Vancouver, and so that was super cool. There’s just so much to do, there’s literally so much to do. The other day Camrus and I went up to, um, this snow mountain. I forgot what it’s called. But like, I never ever wanted to be in the snow. Who wants to be in the snow? I had the most fun ever!

Talk to me about this role. I’ve been checking you out on Instagram and I see you’ve been posting a lot of your training and all this fun stuff you’ve been doing.
You know, it’s so much fun. Action is something that I truly enjoy. I was already trained in martial arts before I got the role, so to be able to do something in alignment with my passions, it’s super epic and it’s super dope and it’s honestly an honour. It feels like every time I go to set, I feel like a kid again. There was one time where—I get shot up in the air a lot—but there was a time where I’m up in the air and it’s at nighttime. We film a lot outside and I’m in the air, I’m looking over all of Vancouver and I was just like, “God, thank you.” Like, come on! This is what I do for a living; like, I get paid to feel like a human rollercoaster. It’s so much fun.