In May, Ruby Rose left the CW’s Batwoman after just one season, possibly because the titular role demanded too much work and required her to live in a city she disliked (Vancouver). Who knows what happened, really? But perhaps you have been wondering, these past few months, who will wear the bat-catsuit next? Well! On Wednesday, the CW announced Rose’s successor: Javicia Leslie, most recently one of the stars of the CBS series God Friended Me. Leslie will take up the role of Ryan Wilder, who is, as previously reported, a new character, not based on Rose’s Kate Kane. Wilder will be a “likable, messy” 20-something who’s “a little goofy and untamed,” and “about to become Batwoman.” And Leslie will be the first Black actor to portray Batwoman in a live-action production.
“I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television,” Leslie said in a statement. “And as a bisexual woman, I am honored to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community.”
Batwoman is, per the Hollywood Reporter, “the first first scripted live-action TV series to feature a lesbian superhero at the top of the call sheet,” and showrunner Caroline Dries and executive producer Greg Berlanti did not want a straight actor to take over the character. Addressing the casting plan for the second season, Dries previously promised that “LGBTQ+ justice is at the very core of what Batwoman is and we have no intention of abandoning that,” or Kane, whose “disappearance will be one of the mysteries of season two.” And like Kane, Wilder will be an out lesbian.
Leslie’s pre-Batwoman credits include starring roles on the BET series The Family Business and in the film Always a Bridesmaid. And underscoring the purported lack of bad blood between her and the show she left, Rose celebrated Leslie’s casting on Instagram. “OMG!! This is amazing!!” she wrote. “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!!”