Supergirl star previews hour tackling race in America
Guardian’s secret identity might not be so secret anymore.
During Monday’s episode of Supergirl, someone uncovers the truth that James (Mehcad Brooks) is actually Guardian and threatens to expose his secret. Thus, James has to contemplate what it would mean to be a black vigilante without a mask in America. Below, Brooks previews the powerful hour.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: We haven’t actually seen much of Guardian this season. Will that change soon?
MEHCAD BROOKS: Oh yeah, there’s a lot of suiting up happening, lot of Guardian, which is great. It’s a lot of fun. It’s just been really nice to get back out there and shield it up.
James is going to be faced with the possibility of his identity being revealed. How will he handle that?
That’s a great episode. It has a lot to do with race in America, and how he might be perceived as a black vigilante — not just being unmasked, but also having to deal with the suspected scrutiny that he’s assuming he’ll be met with because of his past experiences.
Were you able to offer some perspective to the writers for this story?
The writers and I got together, and we kinda broke the story together in some ways. I was able to tell my first experience with racism, when I was 7 years old. The freedom that they gave me to be able to tell that story, it was beyond what I thought writers were capable of. Allowing an actor to infiltrate the character in that way. I honestly have never experienced a television show, or a film, that spoke about race so eloquently. Not just the frustration or the bitterness that it can cause, but the sadness and confusion that it can cause to a 7-year-old kid. We don’t frame the debate this way, but we should. Racism, just like sexism, is one of the earliest forms of bullying, right? It’s just becoming acceptable because it’s ingrained in our culture. To have something that’s so superheroic happening, and then all of a sudden, “Oh no, he might to have to unmask,” then to bring it back to this really grounded place, was incredible for me. It was one of the highlights of my career.
What do you think will surprise viewers most about the episode?
The honesty, because I hadn’t talked about that. I didn’t even realize. It was the questions that Jessica Queller and Robert Rovner were asking me when we were breaking the story that really brought this story to life, and I didn’t realize how much pain I had. I didn’t realize how much confusion I had. Honestly, in some ways I felt sorry for the adults that were doing it to me. Also, I felt really proud, and I think that a lot of African-Americans are gonna feel proud. A lot of African-American kids are gonna feel like, “Wait, this has already been happening, this has happened to other people. There’s a pathway for healing with this.” It was cathartic. I don’t have another word for it, really.
Turning to the season finale, how do you think it compares to the last two finales we’ve seen?
You gotta keep climbing, you gotta go bigger and better, right? I think we have to top what we did last year. We have to, it’s a cliché, but save the world again. I think this whole season has been a lot more grounded, you know? We’re not just these caricatures, we’re actual characters, we’re extraordinary people living in extraordinary circumstances, which is really interesting to watch, if you ask me. Even though it’s fantastical, even though it’s multidimensional, even though it’s interstellar, I think that there is this aspect of the characters keeping it grounded. I think that’s really cool, because it almost makes the end of the world believable, right? Which is what you want, you want kids at home like, “Mom, is the world gonna end?” “No, because of these guys.”
Supergirl airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on the CW.