“I literally had just finished praying and I looked over and it was my manager [calling],” Leslie revealed in DC FanDome’s “Batwoman” panel on Saturday. “In my mind I knew, ‘She’s calling to tell me I didn’t get it, dammit!’ Then I answered it and she said, ‘Hello, may I speak to Ryan Wilder, please?’”
Leslie appeared on the panel along with cast members Rachel Skarsten, Meagan Tandy, Camrus Johnson and Nicole Kang, as well as executive producers Caroline Dries and Sarah Schechter. Together, they discussed Leslie’s significance in the role of Batwoman and teased some plot points for the show’s second season, which will debut in 2021.
Leslie’s Ryan Wilder is replacing Kate Kane after star Ruby Rose exited the series. As opposed to Kate, who is Bruce Wayne’s cousin and from a wealthy background, Ryan is a former drug dealer with a rough upbringing.
“Ryan is a new character in the world of DC and she has a lot going against her. She’s a girl who was a statistic of injustice the moment she was born,” Dries said. “The system was not made for this person and she will constantly battle the system. She’s battled with it her whole life and she will battle with it as Batwoman.”
Dries detailed that she and fellow executive producer Schechter knew within “five seconds” that Leslie was the one for the role — and Leslie felt the same.
“When I read the character description, it was definitely me,” Leslie said. “I love the idea that it’s goofy meets badass meets a person that doesn’t like to be told what to do, a person that doesn’t follow the rules… I love the fact that Ryan is just who I am, a hot mess.”
As the first Black Batwoman, Leslie is looking forward to providing on-screen representation for a new generation of DC fans. She’ll also represent the LGBTQ+ community, as both herself and Ryan identify as bisexual. Leslie said the fan response to this has been overwhelmingly positive.
“I was scrolling through Instagram and looking at all these new followers who had rainbows in their bio, and I felt…like exactly what I always wanted to be, which is a role model,” Leslie said. “I feel honored to be able to be a voice for my community, and then to play a character that represents my community in the same way — that’s not a common thing for an actress.”
Representation will also be important to Ryan’s Batsuit, which Leslie said will feature her natural, textured hair. The suit will also change over time as Ryan becomes more comfortable within herself and her identity as a superhero.
“How can we be sure that Ryan isn’t hiding what makes her awesome, with this suit?” Dries said. “So it’s going to be a bit of an evolution. We’ll see the suit evolve early on in the season. Ryan is like, ‘For me to feel empowered in this thing, it needs to feel like it’s representing something I’m fighting for.’”
The panel also provided a few hints as to what fans can expect in the show’s second season, which will center around the mysterious disappearance of Kate Kane. As Ryan takes over the persona, Dries revealed that she will become closer to the Kane family than expected.
“Ryan will, ironically, ultimately unite the Kane family,” Dries said. “Whether or not they realize it, there are all of these strands of connection that she brings to them that allows them to continue interacting and having changing dynamics.”
But Skarsten, who plays the villainous Alice, said that her character will not be too happy with Ryan’s arrival, as it foils her plan to take down her twin sister, Kate.
“I think Alice is going to be peeved,” Skarsten said. “Here she has this beautifully intricate plan for the demise of her sister, and that will have been foiled. But she is also going to have a lot to be worried about.”
DC Fandome’s “Batwoman” panel is streaming on their website through Sunday at 10 a.m. PT.