On The CW series Legends of Tomorrow, the Legion of Doom is getting ever closer to obtaining the last piece of the Spear of Destiny, enabling them to rewrite reality itself. When the Legends track Nate’s (Nick Zano) grandfather, Commander Steel (Matthew MacCaull), to NASA Headquarters in 1970, they learn where that last fragment is hidden and must journey into space to intercept Apollo 13.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Maisie Richardson-Sellers (who plays Amaya Jiwe, a.k.a. Vixen) talked about how cool it is to be one of the first African American female superheroes, getting to do so many stunts, what’s she’s most enjoyed about Amaya’s journey, the frustration of being underestimated by the Legends, the evolving relationship between Amaya and Nate, Amaya’s trust in Mick Rory (Dominic Purcell), why her faith is in Sara (Caity Lotz), as a leader, and whether she’d personally rather travel to the past or the future, if time travel were possible.
Collider: The superhero shows on The CW really have some great, strong female characters. How cool is it, and what does it mean to you, to be a part of such a great group of women, both as actors and as characters?
RICHARDSON-SELLERS: It’s a real privilege, especially being one of the first African American female superheroes. To be able to be a strong woman and a role model is, of course, fantastic. They really do great job of making the females just as dynamic, just as layered, just as tough and just as complex as the male characters. And having a female leader of the ship is fantastic. It’s fantastic to be a part of that.
When you first got hired for The Originals, to play a character that had another character living in her body, could you ever have imagined that that show would lead to Legends of Tomorrow and that you’d still be here with The CW now?
RICHARDSON-SELLERS: No, I had no clue! But, I’m really happy about it. I think it’s great to also be able to do stunts, and I got to do some on The Originals. The stunts are incredible. There’s lots of fighting and wirework. Because of Vixen’s power with animals, each animal changes the way that I fight. It’s been great. It’s a work-out, as well.
Does it ever get any easier to do the stunts or to deal with the things that aren’t there, or is it always funny and awkward?
RICHARDSON-SELLERS: It definitely gets easier. You get used to changing things, very fast, in the moment. Nothing ever goes as planned. For example, the last episode with the T-Rex was a huge one because there was nothing apart from a man with a pole that had a green bow on the end of it, and I had to stay serious and remember the magnitude of the moment. It’s great fun! It’s exciting to see the finished product, with the CGI and everyone else’s work put together.
Amaya has had quite a journey, since her first appearance on Legends. How do you think she’s most grown, as a person, and what have you most enjoyed about getting to explore that growth?
RICHARDSON-SELLERS: For her, the JSA was a very pragmatic group of superheroes, but the Legends are much more haphazard. When she first came up against them, she was very clear about, “I’m not one of you.” But over the season, she’s learned to really like these people, enjoy their company and respect them, each in different ways. Even with Mick Rory, the one she’s butted heads with the most, she’s affectionate towards him. He’s a friend now. She understands him. She’s learned to relax and learned that there are other ways to be a hero, and that you don’t have to be so formal, all the time. She’s also learned to make friends. That’s been fun to play. Also, there’s the romance with Nate, which allows her to be a bit playful and explore a relationship in a new way. It’s a huge shift from what she had with Rex.
At this point, do you think Amaya considers herself more of a Legend than a member of the Justice Society of America, or will she always identify with the JSA first?
RICHARDSON-SELLERS: After the Camelot episode, she still considers herself, very clearly, a JSA member. But now, after what Stargirl said to her, at the end, which was, “The Legends suit you,” that’s given her a lot to think about. She’s slowly started to accept that maybe she’s changed too much to be able to go back, and maybe she doesn’t want to go back, in the first place. But then, of course, there’s the question of her destiny, which she doesn’t know about and Nate does. The question is, will she find out? And if she does, what will that change?
We saw in the last episode that the team of Legends still underestimates Amaya, especially when it comes to her powers as Vixen and being ale to save them, at times. Do you think that works to her advantage, or is that a frustration for her?
RICHARDSON-SELLERS: I think it’s a frustration because she was very valued among the JSA. But they value her on a friendship level, as well. Rory confides in her. She and Sara have butted heads, a few times. While they undervalue her, she’s very clearly becoming a part of the team. In the next couple of episodes, now that the Spear is becoming whole, whoever has the last piece will have the whole Spear, so everyone has got to be trusted because they need every single person and every single power, if they’re going to be able to stop the Legion of Doom.
There’s a bittersweet tone to watching Amaya and Nate growing closer because we know it could change her family’s destiny. How do you feel about that situation? Should Amaya be able to have some fun, at least temporarily, or should they just be focused on the mission?
RICHARDSON-SELLERS: As long as it doesn’t affect the mission, which it always will, then I say to go for it. But personally, I think it should be put on the backburner until the mission is complete. They really like each other, so it’s going to be interesting also seeing Commander Steel with them because he’s her teammate, but also Nate’s grandfather. That could either bring them closer, or create a problem between them. That will be tested in the next episode.
What do you think the draw of Nate is for Amaya? What are the qualities in him that she finds appealing?
RICHARDSON-SELLERS: I think he’s such a sweetheart. She finds him endearing. She’s been there for the whole development of him discovering his powers. They’re also the two newest members, so that bonds them in a certain way. And he’s gorgeous. She can’t help but notice that. It’s also lonely being a superhero, so to have someone that you connect with, who’s kind and clearly cares for her a lot, I think she comes to think, why not?
We know that, in Episode 216, the Legion of Doom obtains the Spear of Destiny and rewrites reality, leaving the Legends changed and leaving it to Mick Rory to save the world. How scary of a proposition is that?
RICHARDSON-SELLERS: It’s very scary! From the end of this episode onwards, it’s huge action. You’ll see the whole of the Legion together, which is fantastic. We’re fighting over, not just for one piece of the Spear, but the whole Spear. And whoever gets the Spear, what are they going to do with it? Who’s gonna get it, and will they change reality? That’s the arc for the rest of the season. And with Mick, I think there’s terrifying for everyone, but Amaya. She really trusts him and sees something in him that she’s willing to fight for. She’s the one who sees the good behind everything he does, so for her, there’s no real question. I think for the other teammates, it’s much more of a struggle to have to put their futures and their lives in the hands of Rory.
Knowing that the Spear of Destiny can rewrite reality must be tempting, in some way, for everyone. Is there a reality that Amaya would like the opportunity to rewrite?
RICHARDSON-SELLERS: Definitely! The question is, will she find out about her future? And if she does, how will that change the way she perceives reality? In the next episode, Nate pushes for his grandfather to change his future, so that Nate’s father would have a better life and, therefore, Nate would. Whereas Amaya believes you absolutely cannot mess with the future because it’s wrong and against the rules, and she’s still sticking by the rules. So, at the moment, she wouldn’t be tempted.
As tensions grow between Rip and Sara, as to who is the leader of this team, how does Amaya feel about that? Is she more loyal to Sara, since Rip has been gone for so long? Who does she feel is the better leader?
RICHARDSON-SELLERS: She’s heard stories about Rip. She also knows that Rip killed Dr. Mid-Nite. Even though it wasn’t him in his right mind, it’s still another reason why she’d chose Sara. She also trusts Sara deeply. It would take a lot for her to shift alliances over to Rip.
If you could travel in time yourself, would you personally rather go to the past or to the future?
RICHARDSON-SELLERS: I’d say the past. Ancient Rome fascinates me. I studied archeology, so that would be a fascinating time period for me. I’m intrigued by the past and what we can learn from it. I don’t think one should know too much about the future.
Legends of Tomorrow airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.