Vixen is making the jump from her animated series on CW Seed to a guest spot on The CW’s “Arrow,” and Megalyn E.K. — who plays the character in both — couldn’t be more excited about it. E.K. will bring Vixen to life in live-action for the very first time in “Taken,” tonight’s all-new episode of “Arrow,” when Oliver Queen recruits her to help save his son William from Damien Darhk’s clutches.
Prior to the episode’s debut, E.K. spoke to CBR News about why Vixen is the most rewarding role she’s ever done, what the future of the DC TV Universe holds for her, how she incorporates her dancing in the role and more.
CBR News: Vixen is transitioning from animation to live-action. Is she going to be the same version of the character we saw in the CW Seed show?
Megalyn E.K.: To a degree! But, visually, completely different. The look of this character is definitely in keeping with the aesthetics of the “Arrow” show — Vixen is coming into that show with more of that look.
In the comics, Vixen is known for her pixie haircut, in much the same way Oliver Queen is known for his iconic goatee. Was there any discussion of bringing that style to your live-action version of the character?
There was discussion of that, and I was absolutely open to that. I thought I looked kinda cute with that kind of hairstyle! And it would be a departure from any hairstyle I’ve had before on camera. But they were like, “Hey, we like your hair how it is! Leave it.” I was like, “Okay!” Can’t argue with that!
In the animated show, Vixen doesn’t show much interest in any superhero team ups. What brings her to Star City?
I think at this point, some time has passed and maybe — by the time I get to Star City — the Green Arrow, the Flash and I have probably established a little bit more of a rapport. We have more of a superhero solidarity, and so I go to Star City to help out my brothers, essentially — my peeps!
I mean, who doesn’t want their own superhero show! Come on! If that happened, I definitely would not be sad. I just love the opportunity to play this character in live-action and I think, if the fans appreciate it like I hope they will, that I would love to do more, in any capacity, really. I’m really excited about the second season of the animated show, and I’m really excited about the idea of bringing Vixen into all of the universes, basically getting to hang out with all of her comic book friends — even the Suicide Squad or the Justice League. All of that would be very cool.
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There aren’t very many Black superheroes in comics, and there are even less Black women superheroes. Considering that, what was it like for you to bring Vixen to life in such a big way?
It was an honor, really! It was really exciting! I didn’t know she had this big fanbase, and there’s lots of people of color who really love the character already. I think the idea of Vixen coming to live-action for the very first time was very exciting for the fans. The fact that I get to do it is like, ‘Oh my god!’ It’s like I’m bringing people’s dreams to life! It’s exciting, and — in a lot of ways — it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done because fans really appreciate it. I get a lot of love in a way I haven’t before. It’s really nice. I feel really lucky.
You’re no stranger to science fiction and fantasy. What separates Vixen from your previous genre roles?
Well, I’ve never played a hero before, and I’ve never done anything quite as physical. If I play Vixen in live-action going forward, I hope to do a lot more physical stuff. I hope to do fight training. Because I’m a dancer, it gives me an opportunity to bring a lot of that movement stuff into my performance, and that’s something that I’ve always dreamed of doing, so that’s really exciting. I haven’t done that in any of the other science fiction projects I’ve been involved in, so that’s really cool.
You’ve had numerous live-action roles over the years, but your role on “Arrow” evolves straight out of your voice work for the character. What was that transition like for you as an actor?
It was pretty natural, actually, because I felt really connected to the character. I felt like we had a lot in common. I tried to definitely bring that vocal work into my performance, which was something that took a little extra energy. People seemed to really like what I was doing vocally, so I wanted to make sure that I maintained that in my live-action performance. That added another level of challenge, but ultimately I feel like Vixen comes naturally to me. I understand her. She understands me!
What was your reaction when you found out you’d be appearing in “Arrow?”
Oh my god, it’s a dream come true! Like I said, it’s always been a big dream of mine to play a superhero or some sort of action hero. Growing up, I always thought, “Oh, it’d be so cool to play a character like Lara Croft or Wonder Woman” or to do something like a kung fu movie — “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” something like that! To be able to play Vixen is like getting to be that, and this other element — that I’m getting to bring an existing character that has a lot of fans, that has a lot of really rich back story and history and is also Black. I’m getting to be a first timer, in a way — the first time there’s been a Black superhero in the DC Comics universe in live-action. I feel really lucky. I’m getting to do a lot of things all at once with this character.
Did you do any research to prepare for the role?
I did. I definitely just continued to try to read all of the comics she appeared in and kind of just take in all the different versions of her that there have been since the ’80s — there have been a few incarnations of her — and watching the other animated series that she’s appeared in as well. I tried to really absorb her — tried to really find her ethos, if that makes sense. Kind of take all the different versions and find her core and bring that to the show.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
My superhero power… Kind of a strange one, but I feel like I’d really love Vixen’s superhero powers. In addition, I always loved the idea of having mind control — the power to control minds, but not in a negative way and not in a greedy way or a self-serving way, but more in a way where I could heal people’s minds… like ease mental and emotional suffering that gets in the way of people living their lives fully. Kind of like a therapist! A psychiatrist, who heals your mind with her superhero powers instead of medication.
I can see that. SuperTherapist!
SuperPsychiatrist! Yeah, SuperPsych!
Starring Stephen Amell, Emily Bett Rickards and David Ramsey, “Arrow” airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.