The CW Announces Javicia Leslie Will Be the First Black Batwoman

Javicia Leslie at the American Black Film Festival Honors Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on February 23, 2020 in Beverly Hills, CA. (Credit: Shutterstock)

Javicia Leslie has been cast in the title role for the second season of Batwoman, Warner Bros. Television, The CW and Berlanti Productions announced Wednesday.

The actress will take over the lead role on The CW drama, after previous star Ruby Rose departed at the end of the first season.

While Rose played Kate Kane, producers decided to create a new lead character named Ryan Wilder. With her casting, Leslie becomes the first Black actress to portray alter ego Batwoman in a live-action television or film production.

“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 in a statement.

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Ruby Rose (Credit: The CW)
Ruby Rose played Batwoman on the first season of The CW series. (Credit: The CW)

According to an official description, the Ryan Wilder character is described as follows: “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 could also 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.”

Before joining Batwoman, Leslie starred for two seasons on the CBS/Warner Bros. Television drama series God Friended Me. She also had roles in the BET drama The Family Business and the feature film Always a Bridesmaid.

She will make her debut in the iconic caped role when Batwoman returns to The CW in January 2021, airing Sundays at 8:00–9:00 pm ET/PT.

In May, Rose stunned fans by announcing she was ending her run on the series.

“I have made the very difficult decision to not return to Batwoman next season,” she said at the time. “This was not a decision I made lightly as I have the utmost respect for the cast, crew and everyone involved with the show in both Vancouver and in Los Angeles.”

After learning that the series had landed a new lead, Rose took to Instagram Wednesday to congratulate Leslie.

“This is amazing!! I’m so glad Batwoman will be played by an amazing Black woman,” Rose wrote next to a picture of Leslie. “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!!”

Batwoman is based on characters created for DC by Bob Kane with Bill Finger.

The series is produced by Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. Caroline Dries developed the series and served as executive producer for season one with Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Geoff Johns.