Onscreen Superheroes on What It Takes to Land Super Roles: ‘Ask for What You Want’ (Video)

Power Women Summit 2021: Azie Tesfai, Nicole Maines, Nicole Kang and Emily Hampshire discuss what inspired them to reach out for more career opportunities

Stars of The CW’s Arrowverse and Pop TV’s “Schitt’s Creek” came together to talk superheroics at the 2021 Power Women Summit, and they had one simple piece of advice for women — just ask for what you want.

Sitting down for a discussion on “How To Be A Superhero in Your Everyday Life,” Emily Hampshire, Nicole Kang, Nicole Maines and Azie Tesfai reflected on their journeys as superheroes on-screen while speaking with TheWrap’s Andi Ortiz. Each one has embodied an original character — with Hampshire most recently voicing a character called Shadow on a superhero origin story podcast called “The Beautiful Liar” — that eventually came into their own set of powers.

For Tesfai specifically, she got to write her own superhero origin story on The CW’s “Supergirl,” co-writing the episode “Blind Spots,” which saw her character, Kelly Olsen, take up the Guardian mantle from her brother. With that, Tesfai became the first Arrowverse star to ever write an episode for the franchise — something that was not lost on her fellow supers.

“I really just admire your initiative. I feel like a lot of people say that they want to do so many things, but you just followed through and did that,” Nicole Kang, who plays Mary Hamilton on The CW’s “Batwoman” said. “And that’s, I think, probably the most impressive part about it for me.”

Hampshire, who is probably best known for playing Stevie on “Schitt’s Creek” prior to “The Beautiful Liar,” agreed, also nodding to Nicole Maines, who was able to write her own “Supergirl” character into DC Comics. Nia Nal was officially inducted into comic canon with “DC Pride #1,” after Maines pitched DC directly.

“I read this article that Greta Gerwig was speaking in, about how she felt like she never felt like she was qualified enough to direct,” Hampshire noted. “And she’d done every single job and I realized that I had guy director friends who had never done anything and were just like, ‘Oh, I want to direct a movie.’ And they went and did it.

“And Greta Gerwig was talking about, that sense of entitlement doesn’t come naturally to most women. And so to hear these stories of women taking initiative to put their idea out there — I know so many times as a younger actor, I would give my idea to the showrunner or to the writer and let them have it so they could say it so I would get to do the thing. But I’d never take ownership of it. So I think this is really amazing.”

Tesfai conceded that she has seen the same thing, and actually struggled with asking to write an episode initially, just out of apprehension.

“That’s something that I struggled with so much, of never wanting to be perceived as difficult or never being too loud or never — I just want to be easy. I’m here. I’m grateful to be here and not asking for too much,” Tesfai said. “And I think I went through some things in my life that made me realize that people are going to like you. People are going to have their opinion on you, kind of, no matter how malleable you are, how much you even compromise your voice and your worth. And so you might as well start asking for stuff. And that realization happened right before I made this ask.”

Maines wholeheartedly agreed with her co-star, and added that it’s important that women do ask for things, simply so younger generations have someone to look to.

“I think part of the problem for women not believing that we can do this is we have not seen ourselves in these positions,” Maines said. “We have not seen other women doing this. So we just assume, ‘Oh, that’s not for me.’ But boys, they grow up and they have all the superheroes that look like them. They have their favorite male actors and their favorite male directors and they get all this recognition and fanfare. And so they’re like, ‘Of course I can do that thing. Of course I can learn on the fly.’ And for women, we’re like ‘I can name however many female directors that…’ So you just assume that’s not a space for me to fill.”

So once again, their advice for being super in real life was simple: ask for what you want, and create the things you want to create.

“The nuanced voice, the specificity of your voice and your lived experience is important and there’s value in it being told,” Tesfai said.

You can watch Azie Tesfai, Nicole Maines, Emily Hampshire and Nicole Kang talk initiative in the video above. To watch the full conversation click here.

The Power Women Summit is the largest annual gathering of the most influential women in entertainment, media and technology. The event aims to inspire and empower women across the landscape of their professional careers and personal lives. This year’s PWS provides three days of education, mentorship, workshops and networking around the globe – to promote this year’s theme, “Represent.”