Nafessa Williams is honored to be playing a lesbian superhero in Black Lightning and hopes that her character will inspire others to be confident in who they are.
Anissa Pierce aka Thunder
In Black Lightning, Williams plays the role of Anissa Pierce, the daughter of the titular hero, portrayed by Cress Williams. Anissa is a medical student and a high school teacher, who recently discovered that she too has superpowers like her father. Taking on the superhero pseudonym as Thunder, Anissa helps maintain the peace in a community run by gangsters.
Williams described her character as a powerful, bold, and strong. She called it a tremendous honor to play TV's first black lesbian superhero and hoped to see more in the future.
With representation and diversity becoming a significant focus in today's media entertainment — particularly the inclusion of the LGBTQ community — Williams is not taking her role lightly.
"Representation is necessary, and we all want to turn on the TV and see characters who look like us and represent us in some way. I want people to be inspired by Anissa to walk boldly in their skin and feel confident in doing so," Williams said in an interview with ESPN.
The 28-year-old American actress expressed the same desire when asked about her lesbian superhero role in Black Lightning in a separate interview. Williams, who also appeared in Survivor's Remorse, admitted that she does not feel any pressure with the role.
Instead, she feels inspired to motivate others to accept who they are and be more confident with themselves. She also hopes that Black Lightning will serve as in inspiration for families to accept their children regardless of their sexual preference.
"My hope is that when you watch Anissa, a young lesbian is inspired to walk boldly as who she is and to love herself and to love herself exactly how she looks. Also my parents on this show, they're very supportive of my sexual preference, and maybe this can serve as an inspiration to parents at home watching who are dealing with a child who is gay or lesbian and not knowing how to communicate or be as open," Williams told Entertainment Weekly.
Playing the role of a superhero in Black Lightning is also emotional for Williams. She admitted that she cried when she first suited up as Thunder. The fact that she is going to be a superhero for young black girls touched her.
Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on The CW.