Last week on The Flash millions of jaws dropped as Kendra Saunders AKA Hawkgirl (Ciara Renee) made her surprise debut. The character, an integral part of the CW Network’s 2016 DC Comics series Legends of Tomorrow, was one of the very few Legends characters yet to be introduced on either Flash or Arrow. Pop-Break sat down with sat down with the actress to discuss her theater training, how her character adjusts to realizing she’s a reincarnated Egyptian priestess and her relationship with “soulmate” Hawkman (Falk Hentschel).
You’re part of this CW show, but your background is more theater-based. When you got that call to do a show like this, what were your emotions?
I mean, obviously, I was excited. I went into the audition, this is my first time testing for a TV show, it’s probably not gonna happen. [laughs] I was really excited, especially to play a superhero. Who doesn’t want to be a superhero?
Coming from theater, do you bring a lot of physicality to the role?
Yeah, I love doing the stunts. I love getting to pretend I have wings coming out of my back. Like, what does that feel like. I think it’s really cool.
What do you think about the fact that female superheroes are getting to TV before movies?
I love it. I think we need more female superheroes in general. We need a female led TV show. Where’s that at? I think it’s great.
Do you think it’s changed? There was this idea that girls didn’t like superhero stories.
Oh my God, of course we do. I’ve always loved it. As a kid, I used to watch Justice League [cartoon series] and everything like that. I love that. Of course we love that. I think we’re definitely heading in a better direction, there’s definitely more heroines coming out, but I think we need to up it big time.
Your character was featured in the Justice League cartoon series, which your character was featured in very heavily. Your character has one of the most revised and retconned histories in the DC Comics. What have they done to kind of streamline that mythos for background of your version of the character.
We’re definitely doing the reincarnation version. She used to be an Egyptian priestess and has then been reincarnated with Hawkman for centuries. So that’s kind of where we’re going with it. At present, that’s the storyline we’re working on, but I think what’s great is that they’ve created something where they have a lot of possibilities. Like we can go backwards and forwards in time and find all different kinds of Hawkgirls. We also have a different universe in Flash. We have a different world. We’ve brought Earth 2 into it. So, I think the possibility to have more of the complicated storylines from later on is available.
Have you sat down with Greg [Berlanti] and the other producers?
They sent me all of the comics as soon as I was cast. And I’ve been reading them and really enjoying them actually. Right now we’re all just trying to get through the beginnings, the origin of…. Kendra doesn’t know who she is. She didn’t know that she had powers. She didn’t know that she had a soulmate. She didn’t know that she’s reincarnated. So right now, she’s just kind of figuring all of that out.
What’s your favorite episode that you’ve recorded so far?
Well we actually just finished the pilot. It’s crazy though. In TV you don’t get to see anything. So it’s like, even if I loved recording it, I have no idea what it looks like. You know? And I’m sure it’s going to be great, but I don’t know. All of the ideas we have thus far, all of the scripts I’ve gotten, every time I read them I’m like, “ugh, such a good idea.” [laughs] I just have no idea what any of it looks like at present.
When you’re playing the character, you said she doesn’t know about her past, when you switch to other times, is it always sort of a question of her realizing, I lived in this past, this is who I am?
I think that’s kind of what we’re playing is that she never really remembers and Hawkman kind of has to help her out.
Does that change your performance? Do you have to play the character as if she has this strange knowledge and a fear of that past?
I think when she first starts remembering and having visions of the past, it’s very shocking and jarring to her and doesn’t make a lot of sense, but I think having Hawkman there to kind of guide her through it is helpful. And then, unleashing those kinds of memories and that kind of wisdom and knowledge about the world, I think, is really going to do something to her character. She’s not going to be all over the place and, “I don’t understand this.” After a while, I think, she’s going to kind of drop down and be like, “oh, I’ve seen that before. I know this.”
A while ago there were rumors of your character getting her own spin-off.
I don’t know where that came from. I mean, I’m all for it, but I don’t know where it came from.
Is there any kernel of truth in that?
Not that I know of.
It sounds like you, more than the other characters, are popping up on the other shows.
I think it’s mostly because I’m the newest. I don’t have an origin like everybody else does. Firestorm has been on Flash, Stein (Victor Garber) has been on Flash. Dominic (Purcell) and Wentworth (Miller) were on Flash. And Caity (Lotz) was on Arrow. Brandon (Routh) was on Arrow. So they’ve all kind of started, before they’d all started on the other shows basically and I didn’t have an origin. So I think that’s why we’re really using Flash and Arrow to springboard that storyline.
Can you talk about how we meet you there?
Sure. I’ve just moved to Central City in The Flash. And I guess I was a small town girl and I was like, “I gotta figure who I am.” I think she’s always kind of known that there’s something weird or different about her, but she didn’t know what it was. So I think she makes this big change to find out and she does end up finding out.
The opportunities for playing superheroes has changed what actors study. Do you read less Shakespeare and more Marvel and DC?
[Laughs] Yes, that’s very true. I was never a comic book person and now I am. I have to read them all the time. But I definitely do try to read my Shakespeare still.
Look out for Ciara Renee on upcoming episodes of Flash and Arrow this season, and in 2016 on Legends of Tomorrow.
By day, Marisa Carpico stresses over every detail of America’s election system. By night, she becomes a pop culture and celebrity obsessive. Whether it’s movies, TV or music, she watches and listens to it all so you don’t have to. You can find her risking her life by reading comic books while walking down the crowded streets of New York City, having inappropriate emotional reactions at her iPad screen while riding the subway or occasionally letting her love of a band convince her to stand for hours on end in one of the city’s many purgatorial concert spaces. You can follow her on Twitter to read her insightful social commentary or more likely complain about how cold it is at @MarisaCarpico.