The 30-year-old actor credits the Black Lives Matter movement with helping to pave the way for the new series.
"If I'm being honest, I think Black Lives Matter is probably one of the reasons why we got the spinoff," Calloway told E! News exclusively. "It's what ignited this drive for more shows of color."
Supports of the Black Lives Matter movement, which three women founded in 2012, denounce racism and police brutality. Dozens of demonstrations in support of the cause erupted last year following the killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The protests, some of which turned violent, came amid heightened tensions over the 2020 presidential election and collective stress over the coronavirus pandemic. They also increased global awareness and support for the cause. In recent months, major TV and movie studios have stepped up efforts to boost their diversity and inclusion efforts.
The Black Lightning spinoff, Painkiller, is set to air as the seventh episode of the original show's fourth and final season, which will premiere this February, according to Deadline. Black Lightning showrunner Salim Akil will write, executive produce and direct the new project, the outlet said.
"I'm excited about...the whole world that Salim has created and how he wants to show different cultures," Calloway told E! News. "He also wants to show different ethnic backgrounds. Also, different colors of Black—not just that Black is all the same, but all of the different, other aspects of what makes Black."
Calloway also talked about dealing with ethnic stereotypes. He said, "My parents wanted me to have an understanding of my identity, to not just be confounded in a stereotype that somebody else may have of me and that I may make of myself."
"Now, a Black man in the industry, one of the typical ones is getting certain roles that are just the stereotypical, gangster, this, that, you know, as we're kids—we don't have a grasp of everything," he said. "But those that are older—the sages of the tribe, as we've seen through history, those are the ones that have a little bit more perspective. And when I say a little bit, I mean a lot."
Watch Calloway's full interview above.