On playing Batwoman: "When I auditioned for it, I didn't think I'd get it. I just felt like, it doesn't make sense, like, Batwoman's was not Black. [I thought,] 'This is interesting that they didn't just ask for a Caucasian actress, but whatever, I'll just audition for it.' So when I did get it, the first thing I was excited about was getting the job. But then the second thing I was excited about was, 'Oh, cool. I'm a superhero.' And then when the trades went out, and it titled it first Black Batwoman, that was the first time I put it together that 'Oh, yeah, this hasn't been done.' And so immediately, I felt that responsibility. I was super excited to be a part of this journey that's gonna make any kind of difference, but I'm really just doing what I love."
On her personal hero: "My mom raised my brother and I by herself, and she's also prior army. She did two tours in Iraq just before she retired a few years ago. Anything that she wanted to make happen, she has made happen. I promise, y'all, she's literally a superhero."
On playing Naomi: "I've seen little girls—their parents send photos to me—of them in the Naomi hairstyles. And that's so fun because there's a new hairstyle every episode. But that's really one of the joys of getting to do what I do, touching people and making people feel something."
On her personal hero: "My superhero's my mom. My mom is a principal, and she runs an elementary school of 800 kids. And she does it, but she also comes home and encourages us. Just this past year, she took off of work for the first time in 20 years, to take me to do Naomi. To take me to live my dream."
On playing J'onn J'onnz:
"It has been a great honour playing J'onn J'onnz on the CW these past 5 years. Having the opportunity to represent such a strong and honourable Black superhero. In these extremely testing times has been one of the highlights of my career. As a kid growing up, there were very few superheroes that looked like me on television so I'm extremely proud to have given a generation of young people the chance to see themselves represented in this genre."
On his personal heroes:
"Growing up I was always an Incredible Hulk fan! I was struck by his power and strength, but the fact that he used his abilities for good always struck me as important. There was always purpose to his destruction—it was never indiscriminate and there seemed to be a gentleness to this huge creature that spoke to his humanity.
In terms of Black superheroes for me there is only one—Black Panther! Never has a superhero film had such an impact on me before or since and Chadwick's performance imbued the role with such grace and humility that the character made for a true hero. The film itself had such a massive cultural impact that I think it stands alone as a truly inspirational piece of work that will inspire generations."
On playing Vixen:
"Growing up, I so rarely saw characters who looked like me on screen, and I never saw a Black superhero. The lack of diverse representation can have a deep effect on children's confidence and sense of self worth. I am so proud to have had the opportunity to portray Vixen in DC's Legends of Tomorrow, and to see an increasing number of diverse superheroes on our screens. The power that comes from seeing yourself reflected back to you is immeasurable. It tells you that you should be proud of who you are, and that you can achieve anything, including saving the world!"
On playing Luke:
"Playing a superhero is an absolute dream come true—not only because every time I see a comic book now I think of my job, but I also feel like I've already made my place in history. Growing up, Static Shock was my absolute favorite superhero because he both reminded me of myself and also proved that nerdy, goofy black kids can save the day too. Since Static Shock hasn't been on TV since I was a kid, I hope that I've reminded other little black boys out there now that we're also heroes—and we always will be."
"The superhero that had the most impact on me growing up actually has to be Cyborg. He was the first Black superhero I knew about and the first one I identified with.
I grew up watching Teen Titans and the Justice League cartoons which made me fall in love the idea of Cyborg and there being a Black superhero.
I look up to all the Black superheroes now namely Black Panther, Miles Morales, and, one of my old school favourites, Static Shock. They all played a strong part in my childhood and helped me believe I could be a superhero just from the colour of their skin and being able to see myself within them."
On playing Cyborg:
"It means everything to me to be able to represent my people and fill the shoes of Victor Stone / Cyborg. Knowing young kids can look up to and identify with me—not only a cartoon but a live action version of the character—makes it all that more surreal. It's a responsibility and an honour to be able to fly this flag. I don't take it for granted for a minute. I can't wait to continue this journey and keep inspiring the uninspired with more Black superhero stories."
On playing Mack:
"Alfonso 'Mack' Mackenzie isn't a superhero and doesn't have any superpowers, which made him even more interesting to play. I love that he's an everyman who takes on seemingly insurmountable circumstances without the assurance of a probable victory. It meant a great deal to me that in the final two seasons the executives of the show chose a Black character to be the head of SHIELD. Black children can see a team of superheroes being led by someone who looks like them. Positive representation is incredibly important."
"That's why I connected so deeply as a child with Black Panther. Black Panther was one of the few heroes that looked like me. He would fight and never quit, and he carried himself with pride. Namor the Submariner also had an impact because he was an outsider, had dignity, and commanded respect.
My hero now is my mother. Her example of selflessness, grace, and unwavering love is a constant inspiration to me. There will never be another equivalent."
On playing Thunder:
"To me, playing Thunder has been a dream come true. I have been more than proud to give my voice over to the First Black Lesbian Superhero. I'm really grateful that little brown girls can watch Black Lightning and see themselves in my character, that makes me happy!"
On the Black superheroes she looked up to:
"I didn't have superheroes who looked like me growing up who I could actually relate to. Claire Huxtable [from The Cosby Show] was a superhero in my eyes. She's the reason I'm an actress. Phylicia Rashad's BrownSkin, sassy personality and independence was very inspiring to see as a little brown girl."
Nafessa Williams is also an entrepreneur who just launched Y-FEAR, a unisex apparel brand.