Cress Williams Talks The CW’s Black Lightning

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Cress Williams Talks The CW’s Black Lightning
Posted by Jacqueline Coley

September 19, 2017

This past summer at San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) sat down with the cast of The CW’s upcoming series Black lightning, that will be produced by Berlanti Productions and Akil Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, with executive producers Greg Berlanti (“Arrow,” “The Flash”), Salim Akil & Mara Brock Akil (“Being Mary Jane,” “The Game,” “Girlfriends”), and Sarah Schechter (“Arrow,” “The Flash”).

As the DC Comics answer for Marvel’s Black Panther, Black Lighting was the first African American DC superhero. Black Lightning, created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden, made his first appearance in 1977’s “Black Lightning” #1.

Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is a man wrestling with a secret. As the father of two daughters and principal of a charter high school that also serves as a safe haven for young people in a New Orleans neighborhood overrun by gang violence, he is a hero to his community. Nine years ago, Pierce was a hero of a different sort. Gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, he used those powers to keep his hometown streets safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning. However, after too many nights with his life on the line, and seeing the effects of the damage and loss that his alter ego was inflicting on his family, he left his Super Hero days behind and settled into being a principal and a dad.

Choosing to help his city without using his superpowers, he watched his daughters Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain) grow into strong young women, even though his marriage to their mother, Lynn (Christine Adams), suffered. Almost a decade later, Pierce’s crime-fighting days are long behind him…or so he thought. But with crime and corruption spreading like wildfire, and those he cares about in the crosshairs of the menacing local gang The One Hundred, Black Lightning returns — to save not only his family, but also the soul of his community.

Cress Williams, who stars a Jefferson Pierce aka Black Lighting sat down with us and we asked him what it is like to play a modern day black father and superhero.

Cress Williams: You know, I’m a black dad in real life, so I’m just trying to be the best dad I can be in life, but also be the best Jefferson Pierce I can be. And I’m excited that we are portraying this. Family is hugely important to me. I’ve made a lot of sacrifices for my family in my career, and so to be able to put this in real life, I’m excited. I’m excited.

Blackfilm: So you went from being a superhero to your family to being a superhero on television for everybody else to see.

Cress Williams: Exactly. Exactly. Yeah. Yeah.

Blackfilm: What was it like the first time that you put on the suit?

Cress Williams: Wow. You know, the first time … It’s funny because I saw it in pieces. The first time I even saw the suit drawn up I screamed like a girl, no disrespect to the girls because I was so excited. I thought it looked so amazing. And then when I actually put it on completely, I’m 6’5″, and I felt taller than that, and I wanted to run through a wall. I mean it just … I was ready to go. It’s inspiring.

Blackfilm: And how familiar were you with Black Lightning before you took on the role?

Cress Williams: Just really loosely. I wasn’t. But I dove right in as soon as I got the role, and I’ve been reading ever since. So I’ve been really enjoying it. Yeah.

Blackfilm: Have you had to go through any kind of physical training? Obviously, you’re fit anyway, but..

Cress Williams: Right. Yeah. I mean, I work out naturally anyway, and I have been training. My stunt double, fortunately, is an amazing martial artist. He’s become a really, really good friend and so we’ve been training regularly. And I told him we’re gonna continue to train throughout the life of the show because I want to learn a new skill.

Blackfilm: How important for you, because you said you weren’t familiar, but now you’re gonna be familiarized with a lot of teenage tropes with the Black Lightning Character. How important is that for you?

Cress Williams: It’s huge because A, I want to get it right. I mean truth is always very, very important to me. And I’ve already fallen in love with his character, and with the family, and what it’s saying. I fell in love with Tony Isabella. I mean, I think it’s amazing that he saw a vacancy in comic book lore, and as a white man to start to do this, I thought that was absolutely amazing. It’s hugely important to me. I’m excited to … I want to turn Black Lightning into the next Superman, as far as the popularity, you know?

Blackfilm: And to jump off of that, I mean, you have Luke Cage, the Black Panther coming up. How did you separate from those, because it seems like within different dynamics of the black superheroes?

Cress Williams: That’s amazing. That’s what’s great that we don’t have just one, right? That we get to really show the whole rainbow. And so what I think, what we get to offer is, we’re a television show like Luke Cage, and you’re gonna see a longer story line. But we also see more character development. You get to see a aspect of family, like how does a superhero have a family? How does that happen? How do you juggle that? That’s gonna be a first. We get to see a retired superhero come out of retirement, also see little mini origin stories with his daughter. You get so much. It’s gonna be phenomenal.

Blackfilm: I know in the comics, Lightning develops … His daughter eventually becomes Lightning and develops her powers. Are we gonna get any hints of that in season one, or is that saving for season two? And will we possibly get Static in some form making an appearance?

Cress Williams: I think that Static could be possible. I know season one, we’re gonna see the more of the development of Thunder. And I think the idea is that season two would be more of the development of Lightning. But we might get maybe a hint of Lightning … I’m only speculating here, but probably near the end of the season, to kind of set up that. But I know Thunder is gonna be happening in season one.

CW’s Black lighting is the new kid on block of the CW but is not technically apart of the Arrow-verse, which consists of “Arrow,” “The Flash,” DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” and “Supergirl.” Premiering over various nights during the week of October 9th the cross over possibilities are endless though. if they do decide to do a massive DC team up. Expected to premiere midseason Black Lighting will be the first Black Superhero for network in primetime and fans are more than excited to see what they have in stor

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