In the next episode of The CW series Stargirl, entitled “Shiv Part 1,” Courtney (Brec Bassinger), Yolanda (Yvette Monreal), Beth (Anjelika Washington) and Rick (Cameron Gellman) are learning the importance of superhero teamwork with the help of Pat (Luke Wilson), but facing off against the Injustice Society is proving to be a bigger challenge than they’re ready for. Being a teenage member of the Justice Society is definitely not easy and when you throw in life-or-death stakes, it can be difficult to tell whether it’s the supervillains that are more dangerous or high school.
During this 1-on-1 phone interview with Collider, actress Yvette Monreal talked about how excited she is for what’s coming on Stargirl, the coolest thing about getting to play a superhero, why Lea Thompson (who helmed this episode) was her favorite director to work with on the series, what it’s like to have her own supersuit, bonding with her co-stars, what being Wildcat means to Yolanda, and her reaction to reading the season finale.
Collider: In these next two episodes, “Shiv Part 1” and “Shiv Part 2,” we get to see this team trying to figure out how to be a team while also trying to figure out who’s in the Injustice Society. What are you most excited about fans seeing, in these next episodes?
YVETTE MONREAL: The element of surprise. There are a lot of things that I think are gonna make people go, “What?! No way!” I can’t really say much, but there are some secrets that get uncovered and there’s some stuff that happens with the JSA. I’m excited for the extra help that we get. It’s gonna be exciting. I think people are gonna flip their lid when they see the helpers that come and help us.
How was your experience working with Lea Thompson, as a director? What most impressed you about her approach?
MONREAL: I love Lea so much. She was one of my favorite directors. I loved that she was an actress and now she’s directing, so she just really knows how to speak to us actors. If we’re not getting something right, it’s nothing too general. Some directors tend to say, “Hey, do that more mad,” or “Do that more happy.” She gets into it and she speaks to us in a way where we can really understand the final product that she wants and actually execute it. She speaks to us in a way where we all could understand. She was amazing. I hope that we can have her again because she was literally the best. She was my favorite, favorite. The episode was awesome, too. The fight scene was incredible.
Because this is a team that’s young, we get to see them make mistakes, as they try to figure all of this out. What’s it been like for your character, specifically, to realize that she’s not as ready as she thought she was, just because she has this supersuit?
MONREAL: It’s tough. It’s a little overwhelming, especially when we have our first fight in Episode 106, when we fight the ISA and get our butt kicked. Knowing that we’re in over our heads, as a team, causes us to get together to train, and Pat teaches us the importance of teamwork and everything about the ISA. There’s a weight lifted off of our shoulders, when we find out that Pat is on our side because we have someone who’s a veteran and who’s with the real JSA. We feel a little better about our situation, once Pat comes on board.
What does Yolanda think about this new team that she finds herself in?
MONREAL: At first, Yolanda questions Courtney about the other team members and if it’s the right choice, but all in all, she’s very accepting of it. In Episode 104, you saw how Yolanda doesn’t really get treated the way she would like to by her family, and she’s rejected and pushed off, so this is the only “family” that she has. They’ve showed nothing but loyalty and they’ve had her back, in so many ways, that she’s just accepting of them. This is it. This is her new family. They’ve had her back. They show her all of the love and loyalty that she needs.
How cool is it for you to get to be a part of a superhero show where you get to wear a supersuit, and you’re a part of the Arrow-verse and the bigger DC-TV Universe? What is all of that like to process?
MONREAL: Oh, it’s so cool. It’s crazy. It’s so crazy because, when I first auditioned for this show, I auditioned for a role named Tammy and I wasn’t really sure what I was going out for. I was able to figure out, with the dummy sides that I had, that I was Wildcat in the DC Universe. It was me, my manager and my agents being like, “Who could this be?” We were trying to figure it out, just so that when I went in and did my audition, I could be a little more specific and cater to the comic book a little bit more. So, I did the audition, and then I had my callback, which I couldn’t make it to because I was in Europe filming a movie and I had to do everything via video. So, I had a Skype call with the one and only Geoff Johns, and it went really well. We talked about the character, and then I had to re-tape the test ‘cause I was in Europe. And then, I got it. It was just very surreal. It happened slow, but towards the end, it went really fast. I came back and had to go to my fittings, and all of this stuff. I thought being a superhero would happen way later, so the fact that it’s happening now is definitely a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to be a superhero, but it was always just a dream. So, now that it’s happening, I feel so lucky, especially to be working with Geoff Johns, James Robinson and Melissa Carter. They’re all so passionate, and I think you can tell how passionate they are with the show and how it’s comic accurate. You can see so many references to the comics. I feel so lucky. I feel like this is the best show on the planet because it’s just so comic accurate, and there’s so much passion and heart. And it just means so much to us because of the backstory and where Courtney Whitmore came from. There’s a lot of heart. It’s not just a superhero show. We care about it so much, and we just wanna do the best we can. It’s come full circle because it’s making my dream come true and it’s making Geoff’s dream come true. It’s really, really special.
What’s the coolest thing about having your own supersuit, and what are the challenges in having to work in it?
MONREAL: The thing that’s most cool about the supersuit is that it’s made to fit only our body. We get all of these three scans, at the beginning. They take pictures of every inch of our body, just so it can fit perfectly. It’s insane. And then, I don’t know if you can tell, but on the suits, there’s these little markings. Mine has snakeskin and these little scratches on it. They’re so detailed. LJ (Laura Jean Shannon), the head of the supersuits, did an incredible job, with Geoff and everyone. It took a village to create every suit. It was months on end, where I had to go back for fittings, but when the final product was done, it felt cool. It felt great. I don’t even think I could put into words how cool it felt. It’s been on paper for so long, so once you finally have it on, it’s like, “Whoa, there she is!” You just feel that. You definitely feel like a superhero with a supersuit, and there’s just a little bit of weight to it. It makes it easier to get into character, when you have that suit on. You really do feel like a superhero. The challenge was that, in the beginning, it was really skintight, so sometimes it was hard to move, but the more I worked in it, the easier it got and the looser it got. And the neck part was a little stiff, so I felt like I couldn’t really move my neck, but they adjusted. Whenever we mentioned that something hurt or didn’t feel right, they would be quick to make adjustments. We had a really, really awesome team that cared a lot. There were just minor difficulties that I wouldn’t even call difficulties because it was more fun than anything.
This team is getting to know each other the same time that you guys, as a cast, are getting to know each other. What has it been like to work with this cast, to figure out how everybody works, and to develop your own dynamic, as actors, apart from the dynamic that your characters develop?
MONREAL: One thing that was cool was that we all came from L.A., so when we flew to Atlanta to shoot, we were all that we had. That was really, really cool because, in the high school, the JSA is all that we have. And it’s not just the JSA, but all of the adults, too. We all got so close, and we would all hang out. We would go to Medieval Times and there would be pool parties. We were such a close, tight-knit family. It was really nice because you hear stories about how casts don’t get along, or they don’t talk to each other and just go into their trailers, off set. But this is completely the opposite. We have so many behind the scenes photos and videos of us just acting so silly. You could just tell, we all really got to be ourselves, and be crazy and creative and silly. It was really, really nice. I’ve never felt so close to a cast before. This was the best experience, ever. And I actually lived with [Meg DeLacy], who plays Cindy Burman. She was my next door neighbor, which was funny because we hate each other on the show, but she actually became one of my best friends.
What do you most enjoy about who Yolanda is?
MONREAL: There are some things, towards the end, that Yolanda does, where I was like, “Wow, that’s so interesting. That’s crazy. That’s so cool.” I can’t really talk about what that is, right now, but I can elaborate after the 13th episode. I’m really cool about how that will lead into Season 2, if we get one. I also really loved the boxing element. I actually tried really hard to develop a good foundation for that because I know she’s supposed to be the best of the best. It would be really fun to keep that going. If we get a Season 2, I wanna look professional, since we’re supposed to be more elevated by then. And just her loyalty to friends. I feel like I’m loyal, so that’s something that I can relate to.
Yolanda has only been Wildcat for a short amount of time, but it already seems to be really important to her? What does being Wildcat mean to Yolanda?
MONREAL: What being Wildcat means to Yolanda is just getting her strength back. When Courtney comes to her with this proposal of being Wildcat, it really made her regain her strength. If that had never happened, she never would hae had that moment of, “I need to be myself. I need to be me again.” It’s a rebirth of Yolanda Monte, and it lets her be herself again and not give a crap. She has this family of the JSA, and now she has Wildcat. It means so much to her that it’s like a rebirth. That’s what it means to her.
These characters seem like they’re taking such a journey this season. When you read the finale episode for the season, what was your reaction to it, and how do you think fans of the show will react to the finale?
MONREAL: My reaction was, “Gasp! No! Oh, my goodness!” I think people won’t be expecting it. My character, specifically, has a great arc and a great journey. People will not expect what’s gonna happen. It was just, “Gasp! Wow! Shock!”
Stargirl airs on Tuesday nights on The CW.