The Mary Sue Interview: Megalyn Echikunwoke Talks Bringing Vixen to Life on The CW Seed
Megalyn Echikunwoke is best known for her live-action work, including roles on shows like The 4400, House of Lies, and The Following. Now, she’s stepping into the world of animation – as well as the world of comic book superheroes – to bring the character of Vixen to life in a new, self-titled, 6-episode mini-series on The CW Seed, which premieres today!
I had the chance to speak with Echikunwoke exclusively for TMS about taking on the role of Mari McCabe, aka Vixen, what we can expect from the series, and why she’d love to bring the character to life in live-action. (Vixen on The Flash or Legends of Tomorrow, anyone? I say, yes!)
Teresa Jusino (TMS): Is this your first work in animation? What made you decide to take on the lead in an animated project, and what drew you to the character of Vixen?
Megalyn Echikunwoke: I’ve done just the tiniest bit before this. I was once on Family Guy for a second, and…other than that, I haven’t done much. This is definitely my first big animation job.
TMS: What made you decide to take on a lead in an animated project, and what drew you to Vixen specifically?
Echikunwoke: I think every actor would want to do a lead! (laughs) But I’ve always wanted to do voice-over on this level, so I think I just got really lucky. And the character Vixen, a superhero, obviously she’s such a badass that I was like Of course I want to do this! And I’ve always wanted to play a superhero in some way, and I’ve always wanted to work with the CW, and I’ve wanted to do voice-over, so this is a perfect marriage between all my dreams and goals.
TMS: What can we expect from Vixen on this show?
Echikunwoke: On this first installment of six mini-sodes, you’re introduced to her, you get to know her backstory. This is really just her discovering who she is and her power, and kind of claiming her identity as Vixen. So this is really the discovery of her power in this first section.
TMS: What’s the vibe of the show itself? What kinds of stories will we see Vixen live through as she discovers her identity and powers?
Echikunwoke: It’s definitely light. It’s definitely a light tone, it’s definitely very funny. The Flash and Arrow [Grant Gustin and Stephen Amell], those actors actually voice their own characters on the show, and their characters are injected with a lot of humor. And so is Mari. She’s definitely very sassy, she’s a badass – it’s serious in that she’s a lost soul in the beginning, and she has a lot of anger, she has a lot of frustration about who she is and where she is in her life. So, there’s that. But then also, the way she interacts with The Flash and Arrow is very funny, it’s a little bit flirtatious and sexy – definitely on the lighter side, for sure.
TMS: How do you feel about bringing a heroine of color to life in this way, and how important do you think that is for little girls who might be watching?
Echikunwoke: It’s so important. And to be honest, it’s one of the major drawing points that made me come onto this project. It was one of the things that excited me the most, because I think the world is hungry for this type of superhero. And little brown girls deserve a badass superhero just as much as everyone else. So, I think it’s overdue, this character coming to the screen. And I’m super-excited to be the person that gets to be the voice, and maybe eventually be the live-action portrayal of this character. She’s very cool, and I think a lot of people will be able to relate to her – not just little brown girls, but all comic book fans. From what I’m sensing, they’re really excited about her, because she deserves to exist. That’s the most important part of this for me is getting to be able to tell Mari’s story and having her be black, and having her be strong, and having her be a woman – all those things are kind of like a dream come true for me.
TMS: You touched on this in your previous answer, but would you be interested in playing Vixen in a live-action scenario? Are there any other superhero roles you’d love to take on in live-action?
Echikunwoke: I would definitely want to play Vixen, and I hope that does come to fruition. The CW is open to that, for sure, but it all depends on how people respond to this mini-series. Hopefully they love it, and if the fans want more, that’s what [The CW will] do. Aside from Vixen, I always thought it would be cool to be Lara Croft – like, the black Lara Croft? I mean, I think there should be a black Wonder Woman. But the thing is, I’m saying “the black version” of these characters, and to me, Vixen is my answer to all of them, because she’s just as cool.
So, I’m with Vixen all the way. I wanna play Vixen. Just Vixen!
Well, you heard her! If you want there to be more Vixen – animated or live-action, take your pick – check out Vixen on CW Seed! New episodes drop every Tuesday.
—Please make note of The Mary Sue’s general comment policy.—