INTERVIEW: Nicole Kang Discusses All Things ‘Batwoman’ on The CW, Diversity in the Entertainment Industry, Self-Love, and More
Nicole Kang plays Mary in The CW’s Batwoman, and Glitter spoke to the actress about what’s happening next in Gotham.
Batwoman airs Sundays at 8 – 9 PM ET, and season two breathes new life into the series while still being the show you fell in love with in the first place.
Read our exclusive interview with Nicole Kang below to find out what she thinks is Mary’s most powerful quality, the importance of strong female representation, new projects, and season two of Batwoman.
GLITTER: Batwoman returned for season two on January 17; how would you describe the tone of this new season?
NICOLE: So, you’re entering back into Gotham; it is no mistake that Gotham is dark, and you will get tons more of that. But the awesome thing that you can expect from season two is this huge whirlwind. You come straight in the middle of the rug being pulled out from under all of the characters that you knew, and you loved from season one. They’re in the middle of a mystery, and they are solving the disappearance of Kate Kane; who, what, when, where, why. Their ideas of the world are being challenged. Sort of logic goes out the window. And Mary being the heart, I think, of this show, she’s really the heartbeat, for me. She is taking on a lot of the emotional turmoil that has been sort of thrown on to them with the disappearance of Kate and what that means, and what that means for her sense of family, her sense of self, and her complicated, sort of beautiful relationship with Kate Kane.
GLITTER: Mary is going to be struggling with Kate Kane’s disappearance; what do you think the result of this will be for her, and what will it teach her?
NICOLE: Wow, I think loss teaches every person; it’s one of the most humbling things a person can go through. I have experienced it this year along with so, so, so many other people. So it’s sort of unsurmountable. It’s beyond words, what there is for her to learn, what she does learn, and what she will continue to learn, I believe, for the rest of her life. It’s definitely amazing because we watch Mary, or we are introduced to Mary, and she’s right in the middle of her sort of coming of age story, being sort of the youngest character of the bunch. And I think that continues her maturation of her into the young woman that she is becoming has been my great honor, and I’m really floored by the way that she deals with not only the first loss of her mother but the second loss of Kate Kane. She deals with it with a lot more grace, I think, than I would have and a lot more control. I don’t want to say control cause no one’s in control, but she is able to take care of others and put others before her own, even when she is struggling the most. I think she really always puts herself out there. So I’m really excited to watch her experience this, watch her heal, watch her find joy anyway, watch her squeeze out the most that she does. And she sort of makes us laugh, cry through it all. So that’s my favorite part about her.
GLITTER: What do you think is Mary’s most powerful quality?
NICOLE: Her empathy. Number one, her empathy, her ability for nonjudgment, and when she does find herself in a place of judgment, she corrects herself. She’s a person who’s able to admit “I was wrong.” She is able to stand up for what she believes, and she’s so connected to her purpose, her sense of purpose has been– it was sort of in her DNA, the opening of the clinic, the connectedness that she is to the Gotham community in a way that no other person in the Kane family ever had. They were so separate, you know, and that I really admire, she doesn’t lose that, and you know what, she is scrappy too, okay? When it comes to some of those fight scenes, you’re never sure if she will get out of there. And so how she figures it out and she knows, and this is what I’ll say about Mary Hamilton. She knows when it’s her time to go. Okay, so you’ve got a running; tons of running, and I’m tired, I’m winded.
GLITTER: How would you describe the importance of strong female representation, especially when it comes to series leads?
NICOLE: What a sentence! Don’t we just love strong female characters and female empowerment? I think that’s what our show arguably does best. I think, you know, if you look at our top cast, it’s overwhelmingly women, and that doesn’t happen. And we aren’t talking about men; we aren’t needing men to tell the audience about ourselves. That is my favorite thing. That is also one of my favorite things about Mary. She is unapologetically herself in the way she dresses, in the way she comes into a room, in the way she takes on risk. She takes on just as much risk as everybody else, even though she’s not throwing the punches. She is in the field, you know? She’s not just fronting the bill and saying, “see you later, and I’ve got my Instagram to be on.” There’s this whole other underbelly part of her that is on the medical side but is also on the field that really comes through for her. And I think that only happens when you have 360° women. Caroline Dries has assembled this fire writer’s room, and it’s really, really exciting and refreshing to read my episode of the week and be like, “I get to do that and that? I get to go from there and there? Okay.” And being up there me, Javicia, Rachel, Meagan, all of us together, watching them, and being able to lead a show with them all has been one of the greatest honors of my life. It’s totally going in the highlight reel, I imagine, at the very end that I’ll definitely like just see it, a great picture of all of us, but yeah, especially talking about female empowerment, Ryan and Mary’s friendship is a huge central piece of season two, so if you want more of that, and you want a real girl friendship. There is tension. There is conflict. There is high emotion there, high stakes, and if you’re able to still have each other’s backs through that, I think that’s telling. Women don’t just like catfight and then don’t speak again. That’s the trove of the past, I hope– God, I hope.
GLITTER: What would you like to see more of when it comes to diversity in the entertainment industry?
NICOLE: Oh, Lord, somebody give me a podcast or a TED talk– diversity, man. Diversity, it’s so– inclusion, it’s this beautiful thing. It’s this beautiful palette, because, listen, we tell incredible stories, but the people in Gotham, I think that’s a really, really great, exciting thing about it; it goes along with the tempo and the themes of our show in the first place. If we’re going to make another show in Gotham in 2019, 2020, then what are we going to say this time that hasn’t already been said before? The thing is, is that Gotham is made up of a bunch of people, a bunch of different people who have tons of different layered experiences. So this time, if Mary Hamilton Kane’s sort of story is being told by an Asian woman, what does that mean? What does that look like? It does not come with the same privileges. It comes with layers. It comes with her reckoning with her race, her identity, and her sense of her place in this high society Gotham world, in the Kane family– what that means to sort of hold that name and what that name says to other people that her face is not. I think that’s all layered in there. We don’t even talk about it, which is the beautiful thing is that we continue to tell really fun action-filled stories week to week about people. And this theme about who can wear the suit and what a city needs and who our heroes look like, and I’m really quite proud to say that in the Batcave you have an Asian woman, you have a Black man, you have a Black woman all connected to their sense of purpose for the good of Gotham, fighting crime, making mistakes, and getting back up and trying again.
GLITTER: Glitter has a celebrity #SelfLoveCampaign. What does self-love mean to you?
NICOLE: Self-love is like buttery; it’s chocolaty. It’s like this smooth, warm, like lavender bath that we all need to just light a candle and sit in and let ourselves feel and let ourselves wash over ourselves. Self-love, to me, is the root of everything, of all of our pursuits in this life. It’s our root, and if that root is not fed enough water, enough love, enough attention, then the rest of us, you know, the rest of your potential can’t grow. We can’t get any of that. So I think self-love is the beginning for me. And there are days that, of course, it’s easier than others, but most of the time, if you do something nice for yourself, you can often dictate the way that your day is going to go as opposed to being the victim of it. It’s so important to me.
GLITTER: Do you have any new projects coming up that you can discuss?
NICOLE: Oh my gosh, I have a film that just came out called Ten Minutes to Midnight; it’s on Amazon VOD. I also am– oh my gosh, I don’t even know if I could talk about it, but I’m always making things, and I’m really, really excited. Okay, I have some projects that I’ve been doing here while I’ve been in Canada, and I’m really, really excited to show them. I’m always tinkering around, whether it be my clothes, art, painting, or I’m singing, but always doing something. But I am making something in particular, and just most recently, I was in a film called Swallow directed by Carlo Mirabella-Davis. And I am really proud because the Gotham Awards just happened, and he was nominated for “Best New Director.” That film is one of the things that I’ve been a part of, that I’ve been most proud of this year. So please check it out if you haven’t already.