Black Lightning star Nafessa Williams discusses playing a lesbian superhero of colour
“I’m just really grateful to tell the story for young lesbians – and black lesbians in particular – who don’t really see themselves on TV.”The CW’s brand new superhero show – Black Lightning– made headlines earlier this year for providing audiences with a black superhero family, and a lesbian superhero of colour.
Black Lightning follows the title character – Jefferson Pierce (played by Cress Williams) – a retired superhero with the ability to harness electricity, who becomes the headmaster at a high school.
He returns to fighting crime when a local gang – The One Hundred – threatens citizens in the community.
American actress Nafessa Williams plays Pierce’s daughter Anissa, a lesbian medical student and part-time teacher who is able to manipulate her body’s density at will.
Since its debut, the show has received acclaim for its maturity, and portrayal of race and sexuality.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Nafessa said: “I believe love is love. I’m just really grateful to tell the story for young lesbians – and black lesbians in particular – who don’t really see themselves on TV.
“My hope is that when you watch Anissa, a young lesbian is inspired to walk boldly as who she is and to love herself and to love herself exactly how she looks.
“Also my parents on this show, they’re very supportive of my sexual preference, and maybe this can serve as an inspiration to parents at home watching who are dealing with a child who is gay or lesbian and not knowing how to communicate or be as a open.”
She continued: “I hope that our family on the show is an inspiration for some families just to be open and accept your children and love them. The Pierce family does a great job of doing that.”
In the DC Comics, Anissa’s character develops a romance with half-Amazonian, Asian-American character Grace Choi – played by Chantal Thuy – and you’ll be pleased to know their relationship will also be transferred on-screen.
“Anissa and Grace have a lot in common. If you’re familiar with the comics, they were a group called The Outsiders. She’s a peace of mind for Anissa. It’s pretty cool to be able to tap into that,” Nafessa says.
“This is something new for me, playing an openly lesbian [character] on television. I’m always opposite men, so it’s pretty cool to challenge myself and tap into something different. I was excited for that aspect as well.”
Watch the season one trailer for Black Lightning below.