Black Lightning debuted on The CW this week bringing another black superhero to the screen, this time at the center of his own show and, judging by the ratings, it's something audiences have wanted to see. The series was the most-watched series premiere for the network in two years.
But while Black Lightning's success is great for the network, it's also significant for audiences as well. Black Lightning, along with Marvel's upcoming Black Panther, is an example of a new wave of representation and diversity when it comes to the superhero genre in movies and on television. For Arrow's Echo Kellum, being able to be a part of the wave is significant. The actor, who plays Curtis Holt/Mister Terrific and one of only three total black superheroes on The CW (we're not counting Candice Patton's Iris West on The Flash) says that being a part of the representation is something both he and his character are very proud of.
"I think for myself and for Curtis, it is something we're both very proud of," Kellum told ComicBook.com. "I'm so proud and I feel so fortunate to get to portray a hero like this, an inclusive hero, you know, part of the LGBT community, a person of color who's a person of, you know, endless optimism and positivity. And it's a role that I love to play and as far as Curtis, I know he takes a lot of pride in that, too, you know?"
On Arrow, not only is Curtis the only black member of Team Arrow, he's also the only gay member of the team as well though it's not something that the show has used to set him apart from the team. Instead, it's Curtis' intellect as the second tech-oriented member of the team that sets him apart.
It's that humanity that Kellum says is what makes it important to him that he gets to portray Mister Terrific. He explained that he feels like he is giving back and helping to inspire others just as he was inspired.
"I personally, I feel like, you know, what a time to be alive where, you know, I get to see so many people, I can be on TV, I get to portray that," he said. "I get to help people of color, people of the LGBTQIA community so like they can do it too. And for me, that was so important growing up is to feel like I can do it too, but then people who were like me, sound like me on the big screen, on the small screen, and that's what made me want to do it. So, to, you know, it's kind of important to feel like I'm helping anyone pursue their dreams or feel like, you know, they can do anything they want and just like ... just something that I have to take with so much pride and feel so thankful that I get to give that. Anybody just like it was given to me, and to pay it back, pay it forward is just a really awesome feeling."
Arrow airs Thursdays at 9/8c on The CW.