Since its launch on The CW in 2012, DCTV's Arrowverse has quietly and gradually been expanding the roles of women and increasing minority representation across the shared television universe. Across Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl, the four programs have introduced audiences to LGBTQ characters while defying stereotypical gender and minority roles.
Caity Lotz, Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Tala Ashe, Candice Patton, and Juliana Harkavy recently participated in a roundtable interview with Bustle sharing their experiences broadening diversity with superhero adaptations and their own respective insight on representation in television.
"I never saw myself represented on any television, until I was an actor myself and encountering the reasons why, or the limitations that existed in the media. When the closest thing you can identify with is Aladdin, that’s a problem," began Ashe who stars as Zari Adrianna Tomaz on Legends of Tomorrow. "I’ve heard from so many young women reaching out to me saying, 'Thank you for representing a Muslim-American character or Middle Eastern character, one that isn’t a terrorist,' because five, ten years ago, that’s all we were seeing."
"I am a different Black Canary [than] the way that she’s originally written," added Harkavy who stars as the new Canary on Arrow. "She’s a blonde, and I’m multiracial. So for a lot of girls, that was a huge deal."
"The fanbase is super supportive," agreed Lotz who stars as team leader Sara Lance on Legends of Tomorrow. "I saw it for the first time going to Comic-Cons and meeting girls that were from the LGBT community and how important it was for them to have a character that was bisexual on television because they had never seen it before."
While the network has made great strides in increasing representation on screen, Patton notes that it's also crucially important to ensure that minority characters are well-written other than simply visible.
"It’s one thing to just hire diverse talent, it’s another thing to write for them and fully flesh those characters out," observed Patton who stars as Iris West-Allen on The Flash. "You then have to also write for them and develop them and make them fully rounded characters that [people] can identify with."
The Flash returns to The CW on October 10 followed by Arrow on October 15 and Legends of Tomorrow on October 22.