Inde Navarrette on Bringing Humanity to Superman & Lois

Tonight's episode of Superman & Lois puts a spotlight on the relationship between Sarah Cushing [...]

Tonight's episode of Superman & Lois puts a spotlight on the relationship between Sarah Cushing (Inde Navarrette) and her mother, Lana Lang (Emmanuelle Chriqui) -- and it's an interesting ride. The whole episode tracks the relationships between kids and their parents, whether they're Super- or not, and the scene at the emotional core of "The Perks of Not Being a Wallflower" is a scene between Sarah and Lana, which gives an interesting new perspective to that relationship altogether. There's more, too -- between Sarah and Jordan, a relationship that has defined the second generation of Kents since the series began two weeks ago.

Meanwhile, there's some super-stuff going on, and a whole lot of Lois Lane looking into the shenanigans Morgan Edge is up to. You might even meet a new meta along the way.

Navarrette joined ComicBook to talk about her role on the series, tonight's episode, and what to expect in the next few weeks.

Is it nice to have the freedom of being an original character in this world, or would you rather have some comics you can look to and say "oh, okay, it's THAT girl?"

I've found that it's best to have a balance between both. There's pros and cons in both of those mindsets but for me personally, I've found the best way to play Sarah Cushing is to get to know who Lana Lang is, because daughters tend to mirror their mothers. I really studied on what the comics had to say about Lana Lang and the relationship that they had with Superman. I watched Smallville to really get a sense on that, plus talking with [showrunner Todd Helbing].

It's about who the character was, and then I got a lot of space to play the character. I'm the first one to play her, so it's a balance between the two. It's a lot of fun, but who doesn't want a little bit of background on how to play the character?

Have you talked to Emmanuelle Chriqui about how she sees Lana's past a little bit then?

We've had a lot of conversations looking at our characters' relationship through the lens of mother-daughter. Sarah's 14, so she's at a point in her life where she's really malleable. She's going into freshman year of high school, so she's dealing with a lot of stuff. Also, because of everything she's had to deal with, she has a mindset that's more mature than her classmates. So going into high school, there's an attitude that kind of sets her apart from everybody else. Everybody else is just acting like kids, and she wants everybody to take responsibility for their actions.

Going back to Lana Lang, [Sarah's] mother's approval is something that's very important to her and her family is something that's really important to her, so a lot of her motives stem from trying ot help and be a part of the family.

Do you think being kind of an old soul helps draw her to someone like Jordan?

I can see that. I think Jordan, to Sarah, that relationship is very pure. Being the age that they are, your first crush is about finding out what love is and not having any bad relationships to kind of make you feel as though you shouldn't be dating, because it's all new to you. So I think that whenever you have a different mindset from other people and you feel alone, and then you finally find somebody with that like-heartedness, and that same mentality where you don't have to explain everything and they just get it, it's nice. You can unmask yourself and just be yourself where there's no judgment, and that's what she finds in Jordan.

She's surrounded by people that she has to constantly put this mask up in order to be fine, to be OK. In the first episode we touch on the fact that she didn't like her life and she didn't like the future she saw for herself, so she had to go to great lenghts to try and figure out how to get rid of it, and she ultimately thought that taking her mom's pills was going to make it all go away. That failing, she's had a better outlook on life and a different outlook on life. Every single day, not trying to let that define her. So when you find someone like Jordan Kent who does have depression and does have anxiety, but they just have the same heart and the same mindset, it's nice because those people are kind of like family.

Do you think that feeling of being trapped and having no future is made even harder by having Kyle for a dad, since he's the guy guilting people like Clark for getting out of town?

I can definitely see the fact that she's constantly seeing her friends leave from this town that's dying. Not only leave, but be kicked out, and she has to stay. It's really hard for her to be excited and be a kid and be focused on the things that a kid should be focused on when she sees everything dying around her. She sees this hope in her dad's eyes of what it could be, and it's kind of like "Dad, snap to reality. That's not what this is." But it's hard teetering on that line as a kid, what you are and are not allowed to say because they're your parents. It's definitely caused a little bit of static in the house.

When you were on 13 Reasons Why, you played a character who came in with a lot of baggage and fan expectations, because of who her family was. Do you feel like there's anything in that, helps you with Sarah?

Yeah, that's a definite parallel between the two characters. I think if they were to meet, they'd be able ot have a conversation about what it's like to really feel ostracized.I think for Estella, it was way more ostracized because of the severity of the situation of what her brother did but I think that Sarah is more about the fact that she feels ostracized herself because she knows she has this different way of looking at life than her friends, but it's not necessarily her friends making her feel ostracized, it's just that she knows she's different because she has more oif an adult mindset because she has more responsibility than a lot of her friends.

When we spoke with Alex, he talked about the pressure to "get it right" in terms of playing a teen with mental health challenges. Is that something you're acutely aware of, especially after 13 Reasons Why?

Oh, absolutely. Alex and I actually had a conversation about this where I applaud him for playing anxiety and depression like they really are because I feel like it will make so many people feel seen especially during these times. It's almost become a tradition or a way of speaking, so whenever it comes to truly playing mental health for what it is -- and it's different for everybody, but just the severity of what it feels like on the inside, portraying that on the outside, I think its really important to get that right and to have it portrayed in many different ways. And the difference between anxiety in girls and anxiety in guys.

I think it's really important to show how that will be received from others but also how your family's able to take care of it, coping mechanisms that are just small that you're able ot do. Little things that desensitize the audience to these mental health problems. Everybody has them and I think it's really important that the more we show them and the more we talk about them, the more they become normal and able to exist and we're able to take care of each other for it.

People are mutli-layered and even though we may not show it, we all kind of think of that one thing five years ago that we got over that every now and again might get triggered by. It's really importantto show that those things still affect us in the show, because that's the same way it affects us in real life.

Obviously, at this point Sarah doesn't know the big secret. How do you think she would react if she found out that Jordan has powers?

I think Sarah's very understanding but I believe that it would take her a minute to get used to the same way it would be with anything. In her world, metahumans are normal. The Flash is a thing, Arrow's a thing, so in this universe it's normal to know about stuff like that but to have it in your personal life with someone you personally know, I think it would be kind of a shock. But I'd like to think she would handle it with grace. Maybe she would have a freak-out moment -- which would be so much fun to play -- but I definitely think she would have understanding behind it, and then a grace period where she would have to get used to it. But who doesn't want ot have a friend with super powers?