Based on the characters from DC, Batwoman
, which premieres its third season tonight on The CW, follows Ryan Wilder, played by Javicia Leslie, who now carries out the legacy of Batwoman and protects the city of Gotham. This season, she and the Bat Team must work to recover artifacts taken from some of Batman’s worst villains. Meanwhile, Ryan deals with the bombshell dropped by Alice (Rachel Skarsten) that her mother is in fact alive. Things get even more complicated when Wayne Enterprises ends up on the radar of Jada Jet, played by Robin Givens.
Leslie talked to SciFi Vision about what it was like the first time she put on the bat suit. “The suit is epic. I think Maya Mani, our costumer at Batwoman
, does such an amazing job with the suit. I think the way it fits, the streamlining, the shape and silhouette that it creates, it's so powerful. It's so womanly, yet it's still very badass, like, ‘Don't mess with me.’ So, I always say, whenever I put on the suit, I automatically feel like a superhero, because it does grab me up like this, and it makes me walk with my shoulders back and my head high, and you automatically kind of feel the responsibility of being a hero.”
Givens may not have a superhero costume on the series, but she told the site that she does get to wear a lot of designer dresses. “I have to say, in a similar way for Jada Jet, it's not this superhero costume, but you really see how people and costume designers win Oscars for what they do, and it really helps you create a character. So, everything about the way Jada dresses says everything about her. I’m so different than Jada and a lot of the women that I play, but clearly when you put on those tight dresses, there's only one way to walk in those high heeled shoes, and it really establishes the character. So, yeah, she's dresses very well.”
Be sure to check out all-new episodes of Batwoman, starting tonight on The CW, and read the full transcript below.***Note the following contains some spoilers for season three of Batwoman*** Zoom Roundtable
Javicia Leslie and Robin Givens
October 11, 2021
Javicia, could you talk about Ryan's initial encounter with Poison Ivy?
Oh, my goodness. We haven't had Ryan's encounter with Poison Ivy yet, so it’s a little bit harder to talk about. You know, actually, Bridget [Regan] just started, and I wasn't the first character that she's worked with yet, but I'm super excited to work with her. I think it's going to be an amazing addition and an amazing character to play with.
This question is for Javicia. In season two, there was a lot around the cowl. It felt like Mary (Nicole Kang) and Luke (Camrus Johnson) were both like, “This is temporary. This is a temporary thing,” and it wasn't until the very end of the season, where they were kind of like, “Yeah, this is yours now, and Ryan is Batwoman.” How has that changed the way that you approached the character in season three?
...I feel like a lot of the journey of Ryan feeling like she was worthy enough to be Batwoman did happen in season two, and yeah, you're right, by the end of season two - she goes into season three with the acceptance of like, “I am that woman. This is my job. It is my job to protect the citizens. It is my job to keep order. It is my job to make sure that there is really a middleman between the GCPD and Gotham City. So yeah, it makes a huge impact on this season, on a lot of the things that are happening this season, just the confidence of knowing that Ryan no longer has to prove herself as Batwoman. I mean, there're still a lot of challenges that come up where she starts to kind of feel like, “Oh, no, did I mess other things up that are very important to the bat?” I can't say what they are, but yeah.
This question is also for Javicia. What was it like when you read the season two finale scripts and found out that your mom was alive? Then, what was your reaction when you found out Robin Givens I was gonna be your mom?
I knew that was gonna be a question...So, at the end, I was shocked. I think I found out a little bit before I read the script, but even when I found out, I was shocked, because I just knew Ryan's mom isn't alive, that's the story of my character. Then, I got super excited, because all I could think to myself is, “Oh my goodness, you're gonna get to find out more about [Ryan]. I'm gonna get to find out more about Ryan.” You know what I mean? I'm gonna get to find out about her history and her story and what influences her, what could influence her.
Then, come on now, it's Miss Robin Givens. I grew up watching Robin Givens. First of all, I still don't think that we are even at the age distance apart for her to play my mom, but it's really cool to pretend like this can be realistic, because she is such a joy to work with, and as an actor, it's an honor to be able to really play with the greats. You know, you're lucky if you can even sometimes grace presence with them on the stage together, but then for her to play my mom, and we're having these one-on-one scenes together - I was saying earlier, I'm just constantly like, “Oh, okay, I see what she did there. I'll try that later.” You know what I mean? I'm taking notes, because that's the whole part of this journey, as well, is learning throughout the process.
I want to know, Javicia, if you could talk about what it was like for you stepping into the Batwoman suit for the first time? And then, Robin, It looks like you have a wardrobe of designer dresses and everything, so if you could talk a bit about that too.
The suit is epic. I think Maya Mani, our costumer at Batwoman, does such an amazing job with the suit. I think the way it fits, the streamlining, the shape and silhouette that it creates, it's so powerful. It's so womanly, yet it's still very badass, like, “Don't mess with me.” So, I always say, whenever I put on the suit, I automatically feel like a superhero, because it does grab me up like this, and it makes me walk with my shoulders back and my head high, and you automatically kind of feel the responsibility of being a hero.
I have to say, in a similar way for Jada Jet, it's not this superhero costume, but you really see how people and costume designers win Oscars right for what they do, and it really helps you create a character. So, everything about the way Jada dresses says everything about her. I’m so different than Jada and a lot of the women that I play, but clearly when you put on those tight dresses, there's only one way to walk in those high heeled shoes, and it really establishes the character. So, yeah, she's dresses very well.
If you don't mind go back, I just thought about something. Javicia and I've been talking quite a bit off set, and then, today we're on set, and then whenever you kind of talk about me, it's interesting, because I think of the first time when I did The Women of Brewster Place
, and I found out Cicely Tyson was going to be my mom. I remember being so intimidated the first day walking into hair and makeup. Javicia and I got to have dinner together, so we got to feel each other's rhythm a little bit. But I'll never forget being in hair and makeup, and Cicely had her headphones on, and I was just thoroughly intimidated. She just seem like, “Oh my gosh.” And when I got to meet this lady, we became dear dear friends, and she's the funniest person you could imagine. She’s like Javicia; like the times we have when we're just cracking up. So, I don't know. I just had a little bit of a flash of of that, you know, that sense of things. So, it warms my heart.
Yeah, it’s an honor.
Javicia, Ryan has a lot to deal with this year. Last year she almost gave up and died. What do you think gives her the inner strength, and the will to keep going despite all the odds against her?
You know what she reminds me of? There are people in this world that they know their goal. They know what makes them feel like they're alive, and they will do that to the day they die, to their last breath. That's kind of what I take Ryan for. She's a type of person where it's like, “I can't sit still. I have to help people, because no one helped me, and I want to make sure that I can help others the way I wish someone could have helped me.” So, it's just like that's why she gets into these moments of like, “This may be my last breath, but I'm not going to stop.” There was never a moment where she would have ever quit helping people. Whether she quit being Batwoman is different, and that's because she felt like it wasn't hers. You know what I mean? But she definitely would have never stopped helping people, because it's who she is from the core.
…Can you both talk about Nick, as the son for you Robin, and Javicia, as your brother?
…Yeah he’s my brother. So, Marquis is a very interesting character. He's so dynamic, and he's so colorful and layered. I really look forward to you guys watching the development of Marquis. I think Marquis is going to be one of the biggest, unexpected twists in the show, and it’s really going to open up a lot of doors and a lot of conversations.
What I love that Caroline [Dries] has done, is every season, it's really her focus to bring up something that's really happening in the world and it being something that we focus on through our storytelling. So, like, last season, the Black Lives Matters episode and everything that kind of surrounded it was obviously mirroring what was happening in the United States.
So, for this season, a lot of it has to do with mental health. So, I'm really excited, because Nick Creegan, who plays Marquis, is such a talented, dynamic actor, and to be able to play in this world, but also play with a theme that's so personal and real to so many of us, he does it so amazingly well. So, it's just an honor to be able to play with him. Literally, when he and Robin and I have scenes together, we leave like, “Yo, that was so much fun. I can't believe we were able to do that.”
I have to say...we need to have this gathering again a little bit later. You're going to be blown away by Nick and what he does. This character, it is unbelievable, and history making as well, and captivating and current and cool.
And for me, I have to say, what I love about this character, and I've been saying it, is yes, I played some powerful women before, and Jada Jet is so awesome and so powerful and runs a major company in Gotham City, but she's a mom. She is a mom, and this is her soft spot, to the point where it could be her Achilles heel that she's willing to do anything. And listen to me; hear me when I say “anything” for her children. I think the dynamic between Jada and Ryan, I mean, at first, she keeps Ryan at bay, because of the guilt she feels about not being in Ryan's life, but then, do we get close? Will I put her in danger being close to her, wanting to protect her, just loving her so much? So, I love that, because I'm a mom. So, I love that. I'm playing this powerful woman, but I've never kind of done it with that kind of sensibility of mom underneath it all. And even Javicia tells a story about one of the scenes that she and I and Nick did where she's so much of a mom and does such peculiar things that Javicia was even like, “Maybe I don't want to be a part of this family. Uh oh.”
I have a question for Miss Javicia. So, Batwoman has pretty much always been a queer icon and icon in the queer community, but with your casting, now she's also an icon in the black community. So, my question is, when did it hit you that you're representing these minority communities, and what does that mean to you?
Honestly, no matter what role I do, I'm representing that, because that's my community, you know what I mean? It's really cool when the stories represent me as well, obviously, but I feel like one of the most important parts of representation is that even if the story isn't about race, even if the story isn't about gender, just us existing is that representation. So, anytime I get the honor of playing any character on TV, I feel like it's my job to be my community's representation [of] the best that I can be. Since that's what always my goal is, it allows me not to put so much weight onto that and just put more weight into the work, you know what I mean? Like, it's beautiful that it checks these boxes.
So, what I want to do is I want to match the quality of the storytelling with the history that it's making. I don't want to just be the first black Batwoman...When you turn it on, you're watching it, and you're captivated by the storytelling, by the storylines, by the the castings and the dialogue and the performances, that's what I want to bring to life. I want that if I'm that representation, that I'm worthy to be of that representation. I think that this show, in the writing of it and the characters involved, allow that to happen. That's why I'm really, really excited about the season. I'm more excited about this season than my first season. I’m really excited about this season, because I think that everything matches to the level of being able to say, “Wow, she's black, she's queer, and I feel proud of what they're doing over there. I feel proud of that show.” It is a great representation of my community. That's what I want to be a part of.
My question is for both of you, starting with Javicia. I was wondering, as Ryan, when she finds out her mother's alive and later on, interact[s] with her, from a psychological standpoint, does that have any influence [on you] or impact you as Batwoman? For Robin, can you talk about the psychological impact as well of learning more about Ryan?
I mean, it definitely influences [her], because at the end of the day, there're so many secrets that are happening at the same time that Ryan's on this journey, and then, they start to conflict. Her journey of her trying to figure out this situation with her mom starts to conflict with her role as Batwoman, because at the end of the day, my job is to protect Gotham City. And if at any time, someone I love is interfering in that, it becomes a very complicated situation. That plays on a lot of different levels this season, like a lot of different levels, not just with, obviously, Jada Jet, but with other characters as well. So, psychologically, I think that it's a very, obviously, tricky situation to be in when it's your mom. You know what I mean? Like, no matter how much she wasn't there, Ryan wants this relationship, because who wouldn't want this relationship? And I think, more than anything, what Ryan wants to find out is that there had to be a reason why you gave me up. Ryan doesn't want to feel like, “Oh, you just gave me up, because you didn't want me.” She wants to feel like you gave me up, because, I don't know, were you being hurt? Was it unplanned? So, that becomes very conflicted in her journey as well.
Yeah, I think that whole mother-daughter, you really see it, and especially being in the inside doing a scene with Ryan, and it seems adversarial at first, Ryan for her reasons, and Jada for her reasons of wanting to keep her at bay. Then, it's nice to watch them become mother and daughter. Then, my daughter just happens to really know how to kick butts, like a serious bad ass. We do one scene, [and there’s] a look of, “Whoa!” But I think the psychology of dealing with the guilt that Jada feels, you know, and Jada just as a woman, I love the fact that her being a mother is really, like I said, could be her Achilles heel, and her love for her children. I mean, she loves and adores Ryan, and that brings up, I think, a lot of guilt for her that she wasn't in her life. I think Ryan, you know, I can feel Ryan wanting to protect her. I can feel Ryan feeling her vulnerability. In spite of however Jada comes off, I see Ryan looking at me with these big eyes saying, “Love me. Am I okay? I did okay.” And that's really nice to watch an actress play, to be this bad ass, put on this suit, kick butt, then, in a simple way, just say, “Am I enough? Do you think I did okay?”
What is something that we're going to see this season for Ryan or Batwoman that we haven't seen before?
The dynamic of a mother, which is a huge influence, mentally, emotionally, especially, is going to be a huge influence on the Bat Team. I don't think that we realize how much that's going to affect Ryan's place in the Bat Team and the Bat Team’s place in Ryan’s life, because there's a difference between the family that you choose and the family that you were born into. I think the moment that Ryan starts to feel like she has a family, starts to feel like [she] belongs somewhere, where she went a long time not feeling like she had anywhere to belong.
Another big change is we might see a little bit of romance in Ryan's life, because we really didn't get to see that last season. So, I'm excited for for that side of Ryan; I haven't played that side of Ryan. So, I'm actually excited to play it, because I haven't played it, and I would love to see what my natural Ryan instincts are going to be in the romance world. I'm probably a dork, to be honest, [laughs]
because I am, and me and Ryan are so much alike. I'm glad I don't have to like make the first move, because I kind of suck at that.
What else will we see? Oh, we're bringing in a lot of the bat villains, so you're gonna get to see Ryan interact with characters like Poison Ivy and the Mad Hatter, and like, come on; that's really cool. This season of Batwoman is gonna be epic. It really is.