Last fall it was announced that Black Lightning would end its run with its fourth season, but fans of The CW series were hit with another surprise soon after that announcement. Series star China Anne McClain took to Instagram with an emotional video about the series coming to an end and revealed that even before the decision was made to end Black Lightning, she had already decided to leave the series and at that would only be in a certain number of episodes rather than the whole season. Now, with Season 4 underway, McClain is opening up about her decision to leave the show, telling Teen Vogue that God told her it was time to leave.
McClain, who plays Jennifer Pierce/Lightning on Black Lightning, explained that the death of her close friend Cameron Boyce two years ago taught her to step back and put her focus on in a different place, something that led her to realize she needed to step away from Black Lightning, too.
"I was so tied up in working, working, working, and getting ahead. And I was so tied up in that because I really do love acting," McClain explained. "I don't like this industry, but I love creating things, creating art. And whether it be acting, singing, dancing, painting, sketching, sculpting, I love all of those things and I do them in my free time. So, I just think [Cameron's death] made me step back, and now I don't live for those things anymore. I don't live for, 'Let me make sure I accomplish this and let me work, work, work, work.' Now, I just focus on the things around me and focus on this moment and put it on God and my family, and whatever happens with the industry happens. I'm just going to keep creating things."
McClain said that led her to realize she needed to step back from Black Lightning, though it took her a bit of time to make peace with the decision, even before it was announced that the fourth season would be the show's last.
"It was time for me to go and focus on some of these other projects that have been in my back pocket for a long time, but I've always focused on other people's projects first -- things that I was cast in, but things that didn't belong to me," McClain said.
"There's something I want to tell you, and for those who haven't heard, I'm sorry," she said at the time. "This season of Black Lightning that we're filming right now is going to be the last season of the show. I didn't find that out until yesterday. I found out with everybody else. I didn't know. But, what I did know and have known along with the rest of the cast since before we even started shooting this season is that I am leaving the show. And was leaving the show. This was going to be my last season, regardless of if it went on or not. For different reasons, that if we're being honest, I do not want to go into. I just want y'all to trust me on it."
Black Lightning airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW.