'I didn't have a superhero to look up to who had cornrows just like me and whose skin color looked like mine,' Williams tells EW
Warning: This post contains spoilers from Tuesday night’s Black Lightning on The CW. Read at your own risk.
Black Lightning (finally) brought the Thunder tonight!
After months of anticipation, the CW superhero drama debuted Anissa’s (Nafessa Williams) Thunder superhero suit in Tuesday’s night episode. Anissa visited Gambi (James Remar) to talk about his falling out with her father Jefferson (Cress Williams) and ended up leaving his shop with a sleek new costume, which she immediately threw on before heading out into the field to investigate Freeland’s Green Light problem with Black Lightning. (Read the full recap here).
While donning the official Thunder suit for the first time was a big moment for Anissa, it was an even more profound (and emotional) one for the woman who plays her. “Oh my god, I cried!” Nafessa Williams tells EW of the first time she put on the official Thunder costume. “It was so freaking emotional because you have to understand that I didn’t have a superhero that looked like me.”
She continues, “I grew up in the inner city in Philly, which is a city much like Freeland. I didn’t have a superhero to look up to who had cornrows just like me and whose skin color looked like mine. So, it was an emotional moment knowing I was taking on that responsibility of being that to little brown girls that are watching.”
The costume — which was designed by Laura Jean Shannon — takes about 30 minutes to put on; however, Williams says that once it’s on, it’s easy to spend up to 12 hours in it. “It’s a process, but it’s fairly comfortable. It’s made out of a sculpted armor material. It stretches so I’m able to do my stunts and do what I need to do,” she explains.
Twelve-hour work days, though, don’t seem to damper the gratitude Williams feels about being part of this show. “I’m hugely honored and proud to be that for this generation and be a part of telling Black Lightning’s story, because not many of us knew who Black Lightning was until now.”
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.