"Black Lightning" stars Nafessa Williams and China Ann McClain discuss the show’s "realism," which "hopefully can spark change"
CW – 2018(NEW YORK) — On the CW’s Black Lightning, Nafessa Williams and China Ann McClain are manifesting their own unique superhero powers.
As Anissa and Jennifer Pierce, the daughters of high school principal-turned-superhero Jefferson Pierce, a.k.a. Black Lightning, the sisters are following in their father’s footsteps and seeking their own brand of justice.
But unlike other superhero shows, Black Lightning doesn’t necessarily focus on the heroes battling aliens. The villains on the show are social issues such as gangs, gun violence, drugs, sex trafficking, corrupt politicians, racism and racial profiling.
For McClain, who plays Jennifer Pierce on the series, the show offers an authentic picture of what’s really happening today.
“The show came at the perfect timing,” McClain tells ABC Radio. “Like, there such crazy stuff going on in society right now. So to be able to play these characters and tell the true story of it feels real.”
According to McClain, one of those “real” experiences occurred during the first episode, when Jefferson’s character was stopped by police and “slammed up against his own car in the rain.”
“Police brutality…it just hits home for you. And that’s how we started the show, and that scene really represents our entire show and what we’re going for,” she explains. “We’re going for the realism and we’re not trying to shy away from it.”
Williams, who plays Anissa Pierce, agrees and offers thanks to the series creators, Mara Brock Akil and her husband/producing partner, Salim Akil.
“We love them, and we knew that, taking on these roles, we could trust them with them being authentic and really telling the stories that our communities are interested in hearing about,” she says.
“Telling the stories that hopefully can spark change…not just in our community, but with the world.”
The CW’s Black Lightning airs tonight at 9 p.m. ET.
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