The character of Vixen was introduced to the Arrowverse in a very unique way, in her own animated series on the CW’s on-line site, The CW Seed. She was played by Megalyn Echikunwoke and went up against her sister Kuasa voice by Anika Noni Rose. Echikunwoke made her live-action debut as the character in season four of Arrow in an episode called Taken where she helped the team go up against Damien Darhk (Neal McDonough).
In the second season of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow we got to meet a previous incarnation of Vixen, one that was part of the Justice Society of America and played by actress Maisie Richardson-Sellers. She was brought on as a series regular and became one of the Legends, battling against the Legion of Doom that included Darhk. Now, Richardson-Sellers returns for season three where she will meet her granddaughter Kuasa, now played by Tracy Ifeachor and learn that the future of her bloodline isn’t all good.
I got to chat with Richardson-Sellers this morning for a few minutes and ask her about joining the team last season and what the new season may hold for Vixen.
DAN WICKLINE: Your character of Amaya Jiwe / Vixen went from being part of a very regimented and strict team like the JSA to being part of the chaotic and disorganized Legends. But she seemed to fit in pretty well by the end of the season. What do you see as your biggest character growth in that time?
MAISIE RICHARSON-SELLERS: I think it was just that. Learning to let go of this very crisp, black & white view and allow herself to explore the gray and to have friendships. The JSA was much more pragmatic, ordered and about the business of being a superhero while the Legends are about having a bit of fun and supporting each other on an emotional journey. For her, getting past the need for control was a huge release. It changes everything for her. When she meets the JSA again later on, she’s not longer part of that team, they say that to her, and she has to release that to be part of the Legends. That was a huge growth for her in the season.
DW: You came in to the second season with a group of actors who had already been working together. How was it trying to fit in at the beginning?
MRS: They were really welcoming. We’re all together in Vancouver and we spend a lot of time together off the show as well, with the whole of the universe. My character was an outside at first, but as I began to fit in with the group off set my character fit in with the team on set. It was good having the new energy on the ship and Sara was trying to figure out how to be the captain, so there was a lot of new things going on. So, it didn’t really feel like a challenge at all, just a welcoming experience.
DW: You are playing a previous version of a character that was already established in the universe. How much did you take in from Megalyn’s performance or did you try to approach the character from a fresh viewooint?
MRS: The first thing I did was read the comic books, getting anything I could find with Vixen in it. I then watched the CW Seed show and Megalyn’s appearance on Arrow, there was only the one. But I tried to take the essence of the character, her core beliefs and then add a sort of 1940s spin on it. Trying to imagine what it would be like for her grandmother, in the world she would’ve grown up in. A lot more sexism, a lot more racism… a lot more challenges for a woman to do what Vixen does. I think that changes her a lot and gives her a very different energy. It was great to have that material and then put a fresh spin on it.
DW: You mentioned the CW Seed animated series. They’re bringing the character of Kuasa that began there, into the third season of Legends of Tomorrow. What can you tell us about Vixen getting to meet her granddaughter?
MRS: I think it’s really fascinating for Amaya to see that one of her descendants could turn out to be evil. She knows she has to get back to her timeline because Mari needs to exist, but now she knows that if Mari exists so does Kuasa. It really shakes her up for the season.
DW: What are you looking forward the most in season three, for either your character or from what you’ve seen so far?
MRS: We go to some really fun time periods and see some really cool historical figures and characters from folklore and world renown from our history. And we’ve got a team of new supervillain that are really exciting. The playful edginess gets amplified, it’s fun and silly but there are also some very emotional moments. And having Zari join the team as a superhero from the future adds a new fresh spin on everything. It feels so fresh, almost like a new show. The same way season two felt like a new show from season one. I’m excited to see how that translates to the screen.
DW: Are you ever surprised when you see a script and think, “oh, we’re going to go that big”? Because it seems that the Legends part of the Arrowverse is to go completely insane at times.
MRS: Every single week. I’m laughing, I’m shocked every time we get the new script. We have no idea where we are going next to who’s going to be in it. I think that’s part of the joy of it, that keeps it fresh, keeps it alive. And it’s the same for the Legends who have no idea what’s going to happen. The shock for the team is the same shock for the actors. It’s really incredible how they make the sets and the costumes and it really feels like you’re traveling. As an actor that’s a real joy.
DW: Is there any particular era of time or historical figure you’d like to visit?
MRS: To be honest, one of them we get to meet this season, which is really exciting for me. As for places, I’d like to explore more of the far east. We did Japan, but I think it would be amazing and it’s a part of history that I don’t know a lot about. So, I’m hoping we got back there, China or India would be great. I really just want to push it and see just how many bizarre encounters we can have. How many times we can shake the Legends around.
DW: One of the fan favorite scenes of the second season has to be when Amaya got to communicate with a dinosaur. I assume there wasn’t a dinosaur on the set…
MRS: It was hilarious because there was a man standing there with a long wooden stick and a green plate on the end of it. That was all I saw. I was supposed to have an intense and emotional experience with this stick… it was freezing cold, in 2 feet of snow and everyone kept telling me it was going to look so cool. Then I saw it and was blown away by it. It was a great example of how they bring everything to life. I love that scene and it was great to see her react in an emotional way. Normal she uses her powers to fight, but this was the first time we got to see her use them to communicate with an animal. I think it was pretty special and I hope it’s something we explore more in the next season.
DW: Does Amaya’s ability to calm animals explain the relationship she has with Mick Rory?
MRS: Yeah, definitely. There’s that scene where Mick is being challenged by these hallucinations and I go to him and tell him I know how to tame wild animals, how it’s about controlling them rather than fighting them. Of course Mick doesn’t listen and goes evil for a bit, but he comes back around. But they do have a rather unexpected connection. Everything about them is so contrasting, but they both have this sort of wild lost spirit in them, which I think is why they get along in the end.
Legends of Tomorrow returns on October 10th at 9 PM on the CW. The complete second season is available now on Blu-Ray and DVD… I picked it up this week and there are two nice featurettes and a gag reel that are a lot of fun.
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