Black Lightning‘s Lynn Pierce may not be a superhero, but she has one hell of a responsibility. As the ex-wife of Jefferson Pierce and mother to Anissa and Jennifer, Lynn is veritably surrounded by superheroes who turn to her for help and comfort. Though she has been aware of Jefferon’s abilities and his role as Black Lightning for years, her daughter’s powers will be a different beast for her to tackle — and her background as a neuroscientist will help her do just that.
Speaking to CBR, Lynn Pierce actor Christine Adams offered some insight into the Pierce family dynamic. She explained how Lynn’s job will impact the show, if we’ll see more of her life outside of her family and how her daughters’ superpowers change the way she sees Black Lightning. She also teased how she will react to learning about her daughters’ powers, her relationship with Gambi and more.
CBR: How does Lynn’s job as a neuroscientist factor into the show?
Adams: Moving forward, obviously, we’re going to be dealing with Jefferson returning to his Black Lightning status, and also Anissa and ultimately Jennifer. So what you’re going to see is Lynn starts to make those neural connections and starts to figure out what is actually physically happening with them when they become superheroes and how their powers work… That will also draw Lynn into the kind of neural science of it all. So it kind of works on a couple of levels: her being out to observe what’s happening with her family and sort of protect them in a way — physically protect them to make sure that they’re equipped in the right way to handle what’s happening, but also sort of going deeper into the story of how they got their powers and how other people in Freeland seem to have them as well.
How does the development of her daughters’ powers change the way she sees Jefferson as Black Lightning?
Well, I mean, I think it’s going to get more complex because obviously. As our daughters discover their powers, there’s always going to be that conflict of you want your children to be safe, but they have these powers and abilities to go out and do good in the world, so I think there’s always going to be a conflict within her. On the one hand, these are people that she really, really loves, but at the same time they are also endangering their lives. But there’s also, as a scientist, she’s going to be interested in really what’s happening and who has developed this substance which can create this effect in people, and ultimately what could be done to maybe get rid of those powers. So I think there are multiple conflicts in a way, because there’s the science part that anybody — a physicist, a scientist — would want to know more. That’s just natural. But at the same time, the more she knows, the deeper she gets into what they’re doing and that’s difficult for her.
Can you tease how Lynn reacts to finding out about her daughters’ powers?
The only sort of analogy or comparison is, you know, if one of my kids came home and said, “Mummy, I’m going to get a motorbike and I’m going to ride that motorbike all around town,” that would be terrifying. Even just the idea of my children driving cars at 16 seems quite terrifying, so multiply that by a thousand: “Mummy, I’m going to go out and I’m going to use superpowers to fight really bad people who do really bad stuff!” She’s terrified, obviously! She’s scared! At the same time, she knows that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, Anissa particularly and ultimately Jennifer. Those girls are going to do what their father did.
How does Lynn approach her relationship with Anissa as opposed to Jennifer?
I think Anissa traditionally has always been someone who stood up for people. She has always been a child who fought for the underdog. We just did a great scene, Cress [Williams] and I, where we talk about the fact that she got suspended in second grade for kicking her teacher because her teacher made her friend cry. She’s always been like that, and it’s the thing that they love about her and they love that she’s got this very principled moral code, but it’s also the thing that endangers her with or without superpowers.
I think Jennifer is kind of more that kind of quintessential free-spirited, natural rebellious teenager. I think that’s a different relationship. I don’t know that we still know what Jennifer is going to become. Right now, she’s just beginning to become a woman. So we’re dealing with a teenager who wants to do all the things that teenage girls want to do.
So, in that respect, I guess those are the two differences. Anissa is a much more formed person, but the problem for Anissa is going to be how she takes that moral code and translates that into being a fighter for good causes.
How would you describe her relationship with Gambi?
If you think about it, her and Gambi are the only people that ever knew about Jefferson’s powers from day one, so they’re sort of adversaries, allies. Again, another conflict. This is someone who has been very close to their family from day one. I mean, really, Jefferson looks at him like a father figure and I think has a lot of respect for him and Lynn respects that, but at the same time I think she’s very suspicious about his agenda and why he would want to keep supporting Jefferson’s “addiction.” So, again, another conflict of this is someone who really knows who he is and his powers and how far he can go and someone who can help and protect him, but at the same time she doesn’t really want to be sort of putting the bullet in the gun, if you like. You know, that’s the good thing about the show. It’s the constant push and pull between all the characters that I think makes it so compelling.
Are we going to see anything more of her life outside of her family?
I think we are! To be honest with you, that’s not something that I know as yet, but certainly earlier incarnations of the script suggested that Lynn had a boyfriend and that maybe she’d been married. For sure, they’ve been apart for many, many years and so obviously she would have — you know, she built a very successful career, she’s a very respected neuroscientist and I’m sure she will have had relationships. I’m not sure how that’s going to play into it, but I’m sure we’re going to see it at some point.
Debuting Tuesday, January 16 on The CW, Black Lightning stars Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning, China Anne McClain as his younger daughter Jennifer Pierce, Nafessa Williams as his older daughter Anissa Pierce, Christine Adams as Lynn Pierce, James Remar as Peter Gambi, Damon Gupton as Henderson, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III as Tobias Whale and Chantal Thuy as Grace Choi.
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