All About Javicia Leslie, TV’s New Batwoman

A new Batwoman is debuting in Gotham, come 2021. Javicia Leslie has been cast as the lead superhero of the CW series for season 2, becoming the first Black woman ever to play the character on TV. “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,” the 33-year-old said in a statement, per Variety.

Ahead, five facts to know about the actress, including new details about her version of the iconic character.

She has been cast as the CW’s new Batwoman.

On Thursday, it was reported that Leslie would replace series star Ruby Rose, who exited the show earlier this year after on-set disagreements. On Instagram, Leslie shared news of her casting, writing, “For all of the little black girls dreaming to be a superhero one day… it’s possible!”

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Rose congratulated Leslie on the achievement via her own Instagram. She wrote, “OMG!! This is amazing!! I am so glad Batwoman will be played by an amazing Black woman. ❤️ I want to congratulate Javicia Leslie on taking over the bat cape. You are walking into an amazing cast and crew. I can’t wait to watch season 2 you are going to be amazing !! ❤️”

Leslie will play an entirely new version of the character.

Season 2 of Batwoman, which will premiere next January, will continue to follow an LGBTQ character in the title role. However, Leslie won’t be reprising Rose’s Kate Kane. She’ll be portraying the newly-crafted role of Ryan Wilder. Variety describes Leslie’s character this way:

“She’s likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed. She’s also nothing like Kate Kane, the woman who wore the Batsuit before her. With no one in her life to keep her on track, Ryan spent years as a drug-runner, dodging the GCPD and masking her pain with bad habits. Today Ryan lives in her van with her plant. A girl who would steal milk for an alley cat and also could kill you with her bare hands, Ryan is the most dangerous type of fighter: highly skilled and wildly undisciplined. An out lesbian. Athletic. Raw. Passionate. Fallible. And very much not your stereotypical All-American hero.”

The actress has been performing professionally for the last decade.

Prior to her headline-making casting, Leslie appeared in several films and TV shows. Most notably, she played the outspoken Ali Finer on CBS’ God Friended Me, which ended earlier this year. She also starred in the 2019 rom-com Always a Bridesmaid, which you can watch on Netflix. Her other credits include episodes of the BET series The Family Business, CBS series MacGyver, and the Lifetime movie Swim at Your Own Risk.

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Leslie also has directing aspirations. In June, she shared an on-set photo of herself captioned, “This is the power of intention. It’s a daily ritual of mine to speak my goals into existence. Producer, actress, directHER… just to name a few. Thank you @rodneyrikai for trusting me with your vision! It’s wolf season!”

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She was born to a military family, but found her passion for acting at a young age.

According to Leslie’s website, she was born in Germany to a military family, but mainly grew up in Maryland’s Prince Georges County. From there, she attended Hampton University as a Business Management major, per local outlet WUSA9. During her time at college, Leslie cultivated her love of performance.

She was crowned Miss Hampton at a local pageant in 2007 and appeared in plays including “For Colored Girls” and “Chicago.” Her website notes that after graduating school, Leslie moved to D.C. and “landed a gig helping military families.” But Hollywood called, and she moved to Los Angeles in 2012, booking a web series as her first gig, according to an interview with DailyActor.com.

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Alongside God Friended Me co-star Brandon Michael Hall in 2018.

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Her Instagram is filled with fitness, food, and inspirational quotes.

When Leslie isn’t filming a project, she’s passionate about working out and sharing recipes with her nearly 94K Instagram followers. In May, she posted a recipe for vegan, gluten-free granola. The following month, she posted her latest fitness routine, with an inspirational.

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Speaking of quotes, Leslie regularly shares words of wisdom with her fans. Earlier this year, the actress posted a message that read: “A lot of people fear what it takes to maximize their potential,” which she captioned, “On the other side of that fear is an expansive world of endless opportunity! Do the work… it’s worth it!”

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Batwoman will return to the CW in 2021.

Editorial Fellow Savannah Walsh is an Editorial Fellow at ELLE.com.

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