One of the first Black superheroes from a major comic book has been resurrected for the screen by married creative duo Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil.
The CW’s Black Lightning, starring Cress Williams, centers on a father who uses his superhuman powers to protect his embattled community from The One Hundred, a vicious street gang, and the police, who regularly terrorize the city’s Black residents. Sound familiar?
But Black Lightning is more than just a story about a vigilante. The superhero’s daughters—Anissa, aka Thunder (Nafessa Williams), and Jennifer, aka Lightning (China Anne McClain)—are at the heart of it all and powerful in their own right.
ESSENCE spoke to Nafessa back in January about her role as network television’s first Black lesbian superhero and the Philly-native was pretty excited to bring Anissa to life.
“I think it’s really, really important for young, not just black, but young lesbian women to see themselves on TV and to see how bold Anissa is walking in her truth, in that she’s okay with who she is. She’s accepted it. She doesn’t really care. She’s living her life unapologetically.”
And, while the show may center around a male hero, it’s anything but a male-dominated show.
“Although the show’s called Black Lightning, I wanted it to be clear from the very beginning that this was going to be an egalitarian process and women’s voices would always run through it,” says cocreator Salim Akil. “I couldn’t write a story without these women being strong and opinionated.”
This article originally appeared in the March 2018 issue of ESSENCE Magazine, on stands now.
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