Warner Bros. Names First Black Batwoman as Diverse Casting Rises
Javicia Leslie poses for a photograph. (Photo: Javicia Leslie/Facebook)

Warner Bros. Names First Black Batwoman as Diverse Casting Rises

Warner Bros Entertainment Inc has cast actress Javicia Leslie as the new Batwoman, becoming the first Black woman to play the character on television.

“I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community,” Leslie said.

The move is part of a trend in Hollywood, which has moved in recent years to cast people of color in prominent roles traditionally dominated by white actors. For those tent-pole films that can make or break a studio’s year, it’s also a financial bet that racial diversity will draw at the box office, on screens at home and in the lucrative streaming marketplace.

The Walt Disney Co.’s upcoming live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid will feature Halle Bailey as the titular character Ariel. Pakistani-American actor Kumail Nanjiani is set to be one of the leads in Marvel’s The Eternals, set for release in 2021. Disney also scored a hit for its Disney+ streaming service in releasing a theatrical-style version of the Broadway hit ‘Hamilton,’ which stars non-White actors in the roles of the U.S. founding fathers. And the 2019 comedy drama film ‘The Personal Life of David Copperfield’ features Dev Patel as the Charles Dickens hero.

The Batman franchise is one of the most lucrative in entertainment. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy grossed over $2 billion worldwide, according to Box Office Mojo. A later ‘Batman v Superman’ film starring Ben Affleck grossed nearly $900 million worldwide, and the follow-up ‘Justice League,’ considered somewhat of a disappointment, pulled in more than $650 million. An animated adaptation, ‘The Lego Batman Movie,’ brought in more than $310 million.

Warner Bros is betting on more from the caped crusader with an upcoming reboot titled ‘The Batman’, starring Robert Pattinson, Colin Farrell and Zoe Kravitz, due out in 2021.

Leslie joins the CW’s ‘Batwoman’ after Ruby Rose’s departure in the first season. Leslie will play a new character named Ryan Wilder, who takes up the mantle of superhero after Rose’s character Kate Kane goes missing.

In a post on Instagram, Leslie wrote, “For all the black girls dreaming to be a superhero one day... it’s possible!”

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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