Supergirl‘s Melissa Benoist on Costuming and Trailer Criticism: “I Want to Do Right by Women”
In an interview over at Entertainment Weekly, Supergirl’s Melissa Benoist has a lot to say about living the dream and starring in a female-led superhero series. The actress, who was previously known for her brief time on Glee, spoke to EW about the audition process, donning her cape, and comparisons between the Supergirl trailer and SNL‘s Black Widow parody.
About the show’s casting search, Benoist explained,
I never thought that I would say it, but it was even more intense than Glee. I had a pretty rigorous audition process for Glee, but this one, rightfully so, they really wanted to be sure that they found the right person for Kara. It was a long, drawn-out, three-month process. I auditioned around Halloween 2014 and then didn’t land the part until February 2015. I went through multiple screen-tests, multiple auditions with the producing team. There was a lot.
When I learned that I got the part there were a mixture of many emotions that rushed through me — elation, relief, immense joy and then, there was also a huge sense of responsibility that came immediately. I definitely thought to myself, “Oh man, you’ve got your work cut out for you.”
When asked by the interviewer how she felt about playing one of the few female superheroes being depicted in TV or film right now, Benoist said,
I do think there’s a lot of pressure. I want to do right. Of course this is a broad statement, but I want to do right by women. I want to portray someone they can relate to and look up to that’s not a trite or a shallow depiction. I want her to be complicated and flawed. I guess I just want all women to feel like they could be Kara and Superwoman as well. I don’t want it to be campy. I want it to be grounded and human. That goes for anybody. It doesn’t matter what sex. It doesn’t matter if it’s women or men I inspire, I just want to inspire people in general to realize their strengths and their potential, and that you can do the things that you feel like are impossible to accomplish.
After being asked specifically if Supergirl “sends a message of female empowerment,” the actress was quick to point out differences between the series’ controversial trailer and SNL‘s Black Widow skit:
I do. Of course, I do. We don’t really take ourselves too seriously in that respect. The camp is going to be there. It’s a superhero show. But I don’t think that takes away from the female empowerment. Obviously you see Kara in her work atmosphere, it resembles the Black Widow parody, but what you don’t see is Kara kicking butt. There’s so much more in the pilot that I think people are really going to be surprised by. Also, it’s a girl. Supergirl, that whole discussion, it’s a girl figuring out how to become a woman. [The SNL spoof] came out and all of us thought it was so hilarious. I don’t think any of us expected people to compare them or put them side-by-side.
As for how it feels to put on a cape and get ready to kick some ass:
Something changes internally. I feel like a different person almost. It really is an alter ego, where I feel inspired, hopeful and empowered. I tried the suit for the first time on at the costume designer’s house. I had just had an injury to my eye, so I had an eye patch on. [Laughs] So simultaneously, I’m feeling all these feelings of empowerment and positivity and femininity and strength, and I have this pirate patch on essentially. It was a little goofy. There was two things going on at once — two opposing factors of trying the suit on.
What do you think, friends? Do you share Benoist’s excitement for Supergirl?
—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—