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A new Black Canary rises when Arrow returns this fall.
After initially being reluctant to take up the mantle of the late Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy), Dinah Drake (Juliana Harkavy) will officially be suiting up as the Black Canary during season 6. “It was the first time I ever saw myself as a superhero… it gave me a newfound purpose for the role,” Harkavy tells EW of putting on the costume. Below, the actress talks suiting up and teases what’s in store when Arrow returns. (Read our interview with EP Wendy Mericle here.)
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What was it like putting on the costume for the first time?
JULIANA HARKAVY: I think the first time I put on the costume was the first time it felt really real for me. It was the first time I ever really saw myself as a superhero. When you’re acting the part, but you’re not in the costume, it’s an internal thing. Once it became physical with the costume, I actually felt quite emotional. It gave me a newfound sense of purpose for the role.
What’s your favorite part about the costume?
I just love the lines of it. Especially when you have a staff, it looks like the whole thing is moving even when you’re still. The texture is really cool. It’s almost something out of outer space.
Is it difficult to move in the costume?
It does take a few minutes to get used to moving because you move differently. Your posture changes, it’s just a totally different way of walking with the suit on. But the material that they use is a really stretchy kind of leather, and it has a lot of give at the joints, so you can still jump, you can still run. It actually almost makes you feel like you go faster, like when a wet suit makes you go faster in the water; you almost feel like that in this suit. It’s actually not that hard to move in, it’s just a little different.
Dinah was a little hesitant to take on the role of Black Canary last season. How do you think she feels now about suiting up?
I think the fact that she’s in the costume at all says a lot about where she is, mentally and emotionally, in terms of wanting to take on the role and being ready to step into it. One of the first things she ever said about the team was they were in Halloween costumes. She’s cool, she’s not a costume girl. The fact that she now takes it seriously, it shows that this team really means something to her now, it’s important to her and she wants to be part of it. This is her letting go.
After initially being motivated by revenge, what kind of hero will she be now?
It’s justice. She wants the right thing to be done. I believe, and I’ve decided it’s true for myself, that anger that caused her to seek revenge for four years, that’s still in her and that’s what causes her cry to warp and come out. I think it’s still there, but she’s just trying to channel it into good. She also is fighting for friendship, because now she’s on a team. Before she was on her own and it was all about her and her mission. Now she’s going to be fighting for Team Arrow and not just herself.
How will Dinah struggle to balance her cop life with her vigilante life?
I think it’s definitely something she’s going to have to learn how to do well. It’s also important that she help as many people as possible; that’s her cause, that’s her purpose. The police force allows her to do that, it also allows her to disguise what’s happening with Team Arrow, so she is going to definitely want to keep that as part of her mission.
If we’re seeing Dinah in the Black Canary costume, ostensibly she survived the island explosion. But how do you think it might affect her? Will there be some PTSD for everyone after this?
I imagine so. This is a team that seems to be good at getting traumatized and re-traumatized again and again and sort of using it to bounce back. This is just another one of those things. In real life as well, a lot of times trauma and bad things that happen, they bring you closer together, so I think this is exactly what they needed and what she needed to put that anger and that fire back in her. They might be a little bruised and beaten up, but I have faith that it’s going to make them all stronger in the end.
How will Black Siren feel about Dinah taking the Black Canary mantle?
Well, I think it’s going to be quite a battle. [Laughs] To be honest, I don’t know what the interaction between those two is going to be, but I do think she’ll see it as a challenge.
Quentin really encouraged Dinah to take up the Black Canary mantle. Do you think she’ll look at him as a surrogate father?
I like that. I really like their relationship. I think it’s a really sweet relationship. They have a lot of common ground [with their police background], but also because they both lost people close to them recently, I think Dinah has a lot of empathy for Lance and vice versa. I do feel like that’s a relationship I’d like to see nurtured next season.
EP Wendy Mericle mentioned that there’s love in Dinah’s future.
Really? [Laughs] Good!
Is there anyone you’re rooting for Dinah to be with?
I’m so curious now! Oh my God, my stomach just dropped. No, I have no idea. [Laughs] I didn’t know she was ready. Wow, that’s so exciting. At this point, I can’t see it, but that’s so exciting. I’m going to be just as surprised as you guys.
Do you hope to get to explore more of her backstory this season?
Absolutely, yeah. We saw one part and one piece of what brought her to the team, but Dinah’s a really complex person. She has a lot of facets that make her her, and I would love to show those because we don’t really know her. We haven’t had five seasons to get to know her. She popped up. I think it would be nice to give the audience that knowledge about her as a person.
Does Dinah suiting up mean Team Arrow is still intact moving forward? Can they still operate next season?
I’m not quite sure how the team comes back together after the explosion, but I do believe that whether they’re together or separate, they all have a common goal, so they will all come back together in some way. Even if they’re not all there, they will always prevail together somehow.
What do you hope to see with Dinah next season?
I am really hopeful that she’ll become stronger as a fighter. One of my favorite things about Dinah and about the Black Canary is she’s such a skilled fighter and athlete. This season, I want her to settle into her power and settle into herself and become the most ferocious badass that she’s ever been. I’m really excited for that, just to train and to see her become a real hero.
Arrow returns Thursday, Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.