Monica Schipper

“To be able to have my natural hair on TV, that will encourage so many more women who wear their hair natural who are told it’s not professional enough. I think it’s encouraging to all women to be who you are.”

Essence
Oct, 07, 2016

This article originally appeared on people.com.

Simone Missick is finally getting her big break – and it’s in the show about the indestructible superhero that broke Netflix.
“This is the first black superhero show on TV, and I play the first black female superhero in the history of Marvel comics and on television,” the Luke Cage star, 34, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue.
Missick plays Misty Knight, the first female black superhero on Marvel TV that promises kick ass, take names and set sparks flying with the titular character – while also providing a good example.
“She’s one of those rare people who decides to take a stand because it’s the right thing to do and not because it’s the popular thing to do,” Missick explains. “Misty looks at herself as a superhero in her community, as the only person who can protect those people.”
And her character will be able to inspire people all over the world due to the show’s groundbreaking release.
“It’s kind of a big deal – it’s the first show to air in 180 countries worldwide,” she says of the release. “It’s literally going to be everywhere for the first time in the history of any show.”
It was such a big deal that the show actually crashed Netflix’s servers the day it was released. And for Missick, it’s especially important that a show of this caliber also features incredible representation for people of color.
“It feels really great to be a part of a creative that wants to tell a story, and tell it honestly, and show, ‘Okay, the bad guys aren’t all this ethnicity and the good guys aren’t all this ethnicity,’ ” Missick says about the message of the show. “There are different colors within all of those people.”
The idea that the villain doesn’t have to fit a stereotype is a big one, especially in today’s world filled with racial tension and protests against racial bias. It feels poignant that the show’s main character is a large black man that just happens to be bulletproof and is actually a hero.
“To have the lead be this big, tall black man with a deep voice and a hoodie that people admire is a powerful image for kids growing up today where so often in the media, we’re told to fear people who are big and tall and black and have a deep voice,” she adds.
With a cast featuring Alfre Woodard, Mahershala Ali and Mike Colter as the main characters, the show is exploring a world and providing a viewpoint that isn’t often seen on television.

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“It’s so exciting to have these shows like Jane the Virgin and Luke Cage that are highlighting people of color in different ways that kids can grow up and say, ‘It’s not homogeneous, we don’t all have to idolize Frozen,’ ” Missick says, adding that she loves Frozen but is happy to provide a different image for young kids than the “princess with the long, blonde hair.”

And when it comes to hair, Missick is proud to be rocking her natural curls on the show.

“When I read Misty, I was just like, ‘she’ got her natural hair. Her hair is natural and that is just what it’s gonna be,’ ” the actress revealed. “To be able to have my natural hair on TV, that will encourage so many more women who wear their hair natural who are told it’s not professional enough. I think it’s encouraging to all women to be who you are.”

But that’s not the only thing that’s encouraging for women.

When speaking of the impact shows like Netflix’s Jessica Jones and The CW’s Supergirl have had, Missick has a simple explanation for their popularity: “I think people are really excited to see strong women kicking ass on TV.”

Luke Cage is available now on Netflix.