Hawkgirl Gets Real on Race at DragonCon 2016

Legends of Tomorrow actress Ciara Renee is one of the most visible examples of a new trend of diversity and inclusion in film and television. We talked to her about it at DragonCon 2016 in a closed press conference.

Geek Prime: So you mentioned during your panel yesterday that your Hawkgirl is already a departure from the original Hawkgirl because of who they cast. Now with the recent conversations around diversity in Hollywood, how important is it to you that little girls see people like you on the screen?

Ciara Renee: It is the most important thing, and I think that was probably the biggest…the thing I stressed about the most was representing colored women [sic] in a positive light. I was always having that conversation with the writers, “do you think that this is the best thing for little girls who look like me to be seeing this character doing?” That was always my first question. I think that…obviously media only does so much. Your parents and the people you grow up with are important, too. But I think with superheroes especially, because they’re something that young people want to look up to, and they’re so fantastical that there needs to be an element of realism. Our world is so diverse, and the fact that we don’t see that kind of diversity reflected, I mean we’re beginning to, but those are just baby steps. We can really go way further with it. I think it’s so important for, especially little girls, to see that they can be powerful, they can be in control, they can be strong. They can be vulnerable, they can be all sorts of things and still be a superhero, still be something that is a really positive role model. Yeah, that is my number one concern in everything I do now, that I want little girls to see. I remember growing up watching Power Rangers, and there was an Asian girl and there was a white girl and there was no girl for me! And every time that we played, there was one girl in our neighborhood who was a white girl and she always got to be the Pink Ranger. And I was like [groans in despair]. But they were like, “no, the Pink Ranger is white, she has to be played by a white girl. That really is the mentality, so if we can allow the opportunity for more people that look like me, more little girls can say, “fine, I want to play Hawkgirl then! Screw the Pink Ranger!” [Renee laughs] So yeah, I think it’s very important.

Renee’s point is being heard by more TV executives everyday, notably on the CW. Her home network has become a flashpoint (no pun intended) for inclusion and representation on television, even with characters traditionally portrayed as white. DC Comics as a whole appears to be opening up to the idea, from Will Smith’s casting as Floyd Lawton a.k.a. Deadshot (Suicide Squad), to the announcement that Kiersey Clemons will portray Iris West (played by the Candace Patton in the Flarrowverse). Even Man of Steel‘s Perry White is played by Laurence Fishburne. The DCEU is becoming a more inclusive place, and at the end of the day, doesn’t that make it a better place for all of us?

Share your thoughts with us, and who your dream casting for major and obscure characters would be!