Check out or interview with Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil, the Executive Producer team behind Black Lightning from DC in DC 2018! We discuss portraying the complexities of Black fatherhood and 2018 as the year of the Black superhero.
Entertainment and politics have long been bedfellows, typified by this past weekend’s pop cultural event, DC in DC 2018. Stars and producers from Warner Bros. Television’s DCTV series and DC Entertainment comic book writers/artists were joined in Washington DC by invited guests from politics, government, business, academia, and more.
Washington DC, as the political capital, was a great location for this event. But as “Chocolate City”, DC during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, was the perfect backdrop for important discussions about the intersection of comics, culture, and public service, particularly as it relates to race, gender, sexuality, and salient issues in American politics and society.
Team WSN attended DC in DC 2018, and I can attest to how edifying the weekend was. This is such a watershed moment in terms of representation, inclusion, and equity in entertainment and beyond. It was an honor to be able to talk to talent, creators, and fellow fangirls/fanboys about what it means to them to be part of these conversations and progress.
Of course, the cherry on top was the world premiere screening of the new DCTV series Black Lightning, based on the first African-American DC Superhero to have his own stand-alone comic title.
We had a chance to chat with Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil, the Executive Producer team behind Black Lightning. The couple expressed being extremely excited about this series, especially at this moment. With growing (real-life) concern and activism around violence and police brutality in African-American communities across the country, the Akils were troubled that there weren’t many representations of these issues on television. Black Lightning was an opportunity to put the Black man and Black father at the center of the story.
Salim Akil spoke about the ways Jefferson Pierce would be an authentic and recognizable character. This would help to draw in audiences who might be unfamiliar with the comics, yet find this character and his world to be compelling. Mara Brock Akil shared how Jefferson is actually a hero and father to his community, outside of his superpowers. At the same time, he faces the dilemma of bearing a heavy responsibility as Black Lightning–wanting to save his community, but knowing the huge cost to himself and his family. Finally, the Akils discussed Black Lightning as part of a larger conversation about the Black superhero. With Luke Cage and Black Panther, their hope would be that Black Lightning can explore particular facets of the Black superhero experience, while contributing to continuity of representation in television and film.
Watch the full interview here: