Ava DuVernay’s hotly-anticipated superhero series, “Naomi,” premiered on the CW this week.
The series was created as a tribute to comic book writer and creator Dwayne McDuffie. Naomi McDuffie, also known as Powerhouse, is a teenager gifted with “Godlike” powers after the degradation of Earth’s ozone layer exposes the surface of the Earth to a previously-unknown type of radioactive energy. She is one of 29 others who developed powers.
“I was asked why I’m doing a show on the CW about a Black girl learning that she’s actually a superhero,” she tweeted. “Because I want there to be a show about a Black girl learning that she’s actually a superhero. And then being a great one.”
Kaci Walfall plays the titular character.
At first, Naomi, a typical high school kid, is a budding journalist who runs a Superman site. However, things take a drastic turn after Superman is involved in an altercation, and everyone thinks it is just a publicity stunt., Naomi included, assumes it is a publicity stunt. During her investigation into the incident, Naomi discovered she has some superhero abilities of her own.
“We always joke that, even in the pilot when you see that Naomi’s in all these clubs and that she has all these friends and she’s juggling all these things and she runs the third biggest Superman fan site in the world, it’s almost like she’s a superhero before she even realizes that she’s a superhero,” Walfall tells Variety. “It’s almost superhuman that she’s able to do all these things and maintain a happy life and stay confident.”
Speaking to the outlet, DuVernay stresses the importance of representation.
“The more evolved way to think about representation is that she is treated like any other hero and that her powers are not specific to the way that anyone treats her,” DuVernay says. “And so, one of the reasons why I liked this is she literally has powers that will eventually [be] almost identical to Superman. The fact that DC has this Black, teenage girl superhero who eventually will have powers that are on par with Superman — who is the quintessential cis, white male superhero — is a thrilling proposition. And in order to really do that, you’ve got to throw away any kind of social construct and just dive into the fact that she’s a badass.”