‘Black Lightning’ Ups Chantal Thuy To Series Regular; Actress Talks Season 4, Asian And LGBTQ Representation In The Superhero Genre

EXCLUSIVE: Grace Choi is officially here to stay on The CW’s Black Lightning. Chantal Thuy, who plays the shapeshifting metahuman on the Arrowverse superhero drama, has been upped to series regular for season four.

Grace Choi is based on the Black Lightning comic created by Tony Isabella with Trevor von Eeden. Thuy first appeared as a recurring character in the first season and she developed a relationship with Anissa (Nafessa Williams) who is also known as the metahuman Thunder and/or Blackbird. The Grace and Anissa broke ground as an on-screen queer superhero couple of color — and they were about to get married before the War for Freeland interrupted things.

“Chantal Thuy embodies the character of Grace Choi,” said Black Lightning executive producer and showrunner Salim Akil. “I am sure our Black Lightning fans knew, especially those who follow the Grace and Anissa relationship storyline, that having Chantal join as a series regular was only a matter of time. I am elated to finally welcome her officially to the team.”

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Black Lightning is produced by Berlanti Productions and Akil Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television. The series returns to The CW on February 8, 2021.

Thuy recently made her Broadway debut last year in Tracy Letts’ play Linda Vista with the Second Stage Theater in New York. Alongside the Steppenwolf Theatre ensemble, she reprised the role of Minnie Tran after playing the part in the Center Theatre Group’s production in Los Angeles. Thuy has also appeared in Madam Secretary, Pretty Little Liars and Matador. She is repped by Joseph Le Talent Agency and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

Deadline talked to Thuy about what’s in store for Grace in season four, Asian and queer representation in the superhero space and the possibilities of seeing Grace team up with her half-sibling Ryan Choi (aka Atom).

DEADLINE: When you first read the role of Grace Choi, what was your initial reaction?

CHANTAL THUY: When I read the role, I was blown away by Grace’s playful wit, her strength and the fact that she was actually written as an Asian American superhero, which is still rare to this day. I knew it was a role that would be really fun to play. My interest was also piqued because I had never seen an all-Black superhero series on The CW before, and I thought that was a really interesting and important story to explore.

DEADLINE: As you enter season 4, how do you think Grace has changed since the beginning and how do you plan on navigating what’s in store for her in the new season?

THUY: As the seasons progressed, Grace has started to embrace her strengths and her powers, which I see continuing into season 4. She’s gaining control of her shapeshifting abilities, she’s less volatile, and less of an outsider. I’m hoping this will mean a new suit and getting to join in on more of the family fights to protect Freeland! I also feel her tendency to avoid intimacy will slowly be mended through her relationship with Anissa.

DEADLINE: Grace is one of the only — if not the only Asian superheroes on TV right now. What does it mean to you to have a queer, Asian superhero at the forefront of one of the biggest comic book TV franchises?

THUY: I can’t say this enough, but media and entertainment shape our beliefs, thoughts and perceptions, and it is important for Asian Americans to also have a seat at the table and have our voices heard. We are one of the fastest-growing racial groups in the United States, yet we are still greatly underrepresented when it comes to roles in television and film. It’s time for us to have visibility and be seen. For this reason, I feel even more so blessed to be portraying a queer Asian superhero on a show with such a historic debut for television representation.

DEADLINE: Speaking of Asian superheroes, Osric Chau’s Ryan Choi (aka Atom) made his debut on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. In the comics, Ryan and Grace are half-siblings. Do you think we can expect them to meet in the Arrowverse in the near future?

THUY: I would love nothing more than to see what a storyline would look like if Ryan Choi and Grace got to team up in the Arrowverse. I’m very curious to see what their backstory is and how they would interact. I think that there’s exciting opportunities available with the crossovers, and who wouldn’t be interested in seeing two long-lost half-siblings reconnect?

DEADLINE: Why do you think a show like Black Lightning is relevant more now than ever when it comes to the representation in TV? How do you think Black Lightning speaks to the current social landscape?

THUY: Black Lightning has been successful in exploring real world issues that affect Black communities in America, while also being able to entertain audiences in the process. Salim, our showrunner, has been an amazing voice for the community. These issues need to be discussed now more than ever in this period of social unrest and political mess. To close off, I also deeply experience the value of the work when young girls and women reach out to me and say they feel seen and validated in part due to the relationship between Nafessa Williams’ character and mine, which is something they rarely get to see between two POC superheroes on television.

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