National City is getting a new groundbreaking superhero!
Transgender activist turned actress Nicole Maines (Royal Pains) is joining Supergirl as TV’s first transgender superhero in season 4, producers announced during the show’s San Diego Comic-Con 2018 panel Saturday.
Maines will play Nia Nal, the newest addition to CatCo’s reporting team who is fierce and driven to protect others. This season, Nia will follow a similar path as Kara/Supergirl that will lead her to eventually embracing her superhero destiny as Dreamer. Hopefully, the introduction of a new CatCo based character means this season will be spending a bit more time at CatCo, which diminished in importance in season 3 due to the fact that Kara was focused on being Supergirl.
“She has this ferocious drive to protect people and to fight against discrimination and hatred,” Maines told the audience during the panel. “She’s the superhero we need right now.”
DC Comics fans probably noticed that Nia shares a last name with Legion of Superheroes member Nura Nal, a.k.a. Dream Girl. Although these two aren’t the same character, EW has confirmed that Nia is Nura’s ancestor.
This is the second bit of history-making news to come out of the Arrowverse this week. On Tuesday, it was announced that the CW was developing a Batwoman series, which would be the first live-action superhero series centered on an openly gay lead.
“I’ve just been doing a lot of auditions lately because a lot of different shows have been really eager to tell the stories of transgender people, especially transgender youth,” Maines told the audience. “Because it’s such an important issue right now in our society and in the world. And so it seems only fitting that we have a trans superhero for trans kids to look up to. I wish there was a trans superhero when I was little.”
On Saturday, Supergirl also announced two other additions to the cast: new series regular April Parker Jones as Colonel Haley and David Ajala (Nightflyers, Falling Water), who will recur as the DC comics character Manchester Black. Colonel Haley is described as a dedicated soldier who “lives and dies by the orders of her commanding officers” and always acts in the country’s best interest. Manchester Black is a “the type of guy who brings a knife to a gunfight and still walks away the winner. With a dark past, he easily deflects the brutality of his mission with his charm and sense of humor.” (If you want to learn more about Manchester Black, check out Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi’s Superman: Black Dawn, which saw Manchester Black terrorize the Superman, Lois Lane, and their son Jon).
As EW previously reported, Supergirl also added both Jesse Rath, who recurred as Brainiac 5 in season 3, and Smallville‘s Sam Witwer as series regulars in season 4.
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Supergirl returns Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.
Additional reporting by Devan Coggan.