As Diddy — excuse us, Love — tweeted “The black renaissance has begun,” and he might be onto something. Joining Hollywood’s paradigm shift of more black representation on the silver screen and television, The CW’s second-biggest series in ratings Black Lightning is only two episodes in and has already garnered a lot of support.
First of its kind on network TV, the comic-turned-TV-show is set in New Orleans, and follows a black family with superhero powers. The father, Jefferson Pierce (played by Cress Williams), is raising two daughters, Jennifer (played by China Anne McClain) and Anissa (played by the show’s breakout star Nafessa Williams). In an interview with Teen Vogue, Williams said this role means a lot to her because it gives her a chance to be the change she wants to see.
“I like to think we’re in the year of the black superhero … I didn’t have this coming up as a little black girl. I didn’t see myself as a superhero,” she told Teen Vogue. “I think we’ve stepped up and we want to see change, and we’re being that change. I think that’s what it’s about. It’s not about complaining about wanting change. It’s about being the change and stepping up and making sure that happens.”
Anticipation and support of the show isn’t just because of its husband and wife creators, Salim and Mara Brock Akil. The series also shows what life is like for a black lesbian, which is rarely shown on TV.
“I’m really honored,” Williams told Advocate. “We don’t really get to see young, black women opposite each other on TV and film. I’m really proud to play a role for young lesbian women to see themselves [and] to see how loving and supportive the family is. I believe that families of lesbian and gay teenagers need to see that, if they’re struggling with accepting their child’s sexuality.”
The show continues next Tuesday (Jan. 30) and Jill Scott will be making an appearance as the show’s villain Lady Eve, according to reports.