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This New Character Will Shake Up The ‘Smug Family’ On DC’s Legends Of Tomorrow

Everything is political these days. Every move you make is a “statement.”

So the best thing to do if you’re running a TV show is to just embrace that. Be clear about what you’re trying to do and what you’re trying to say. The people behind DC’s Legends of Tomorrow appear to have done exactly that with the addition of a female Muslim character for the coming season.

The new character is from the future, named Zari, and she’s played by Tala Ashe.

“I think back from three years ago when we first met with you guys (reporters at the Television Critics Association event), we all recognized that there weren’t enough women, quite frankly, on the bridge of the Waverider,” said executive producer Marc Guggenheim.

The cast members on hand—Ashe, Brandon Routh and Caity Lotz—clapped at that.

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(L-R) Brandon Routh, Caity Lotz, Tala Ashe

“Straight up,” Guggenheim continued. “It’s something we’d been looking to address.”

“We were talking about bringing on a female character and what her powers could be. But then, I’ll be honest, you might have heard there was this (U.S. Presidential) election. And not to get political, but something we all sort of gravitated towards in the writers’ room was the idea of the character being Muslim. That was very important to us.

“And I think having a character who, along with being a computer hacker and being a superhero and being from the future, who also happens to be Muslim, the way other characters happen to be Christian or Felicity Smoak on Arrow happens to be Jewish, it’s a nice, important aspect of her character. And we were incredibly fortunate to continue our streak of getting amazing actors for the show.”

Ashe contemplated how important it would have been for her, as a kid, to see a character like Zari on TV.

“I just think representation is a really powerful thing, and I know that when I was growing up, when I watched television, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me,” Ashe said. “So when I think about the child me in Ohio right now, it broadens your perspective.

“And what I think is so lovely about the show is that the Legends are this tapestry that reflects the America of today. Zari is further diversifying that.”

Representation and diversification aside, what is Zari actually going to bring to the story on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow?

“So the Legends meet Zari in 2042, and 2042 is a pretty bleak dystopian police state, essentially,” Ashe explained. “And Zari is speaking truth to power in the ways that she can.

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Tala Ashe and executive producer Marc Guggenheim

“One of those ways is that she’s a hacktivist, so she encounters the Legends, and I think there’s sort of a philosophical challenge there. She sees that they are going to fix these anachronisms in history, but she’s living in a time that’s so bleak and so terrible that she challenges them to think, ‘Is there a way for us to be Legends and be almost humanitarians about it, and try to improve history and not just fix history?’ So I think there’s going to be some tension there.

“Also, she’s very guarded because of what she has to endure in her world, and so I think she’s sort of reticent to really go into the fold of the Legends at first. That’s going to play out over the season, how she, or if she, really becomes part of the family in a comfortable way.”

Executive producer Phil Klemmer said Zari certainly will shake up the Legends “family,” jolting them out of their smugness.

“We want to change the dynamic on the ship because it’s a family story, and I’m sure, for you guys, families fall into patterns, and it makes it really interesting to invite somebody in who has a totally different perspective,” Klemmer said.

“The fact that Zari is from the future makes it really interesting, because our Legends have gotten a little bit…  not smug, but they feel good about what they’re doing.

“So to have Zari come in and say, ‘Oh, all of this history that you’ve been fixing, it didn’t amount to anything for me,’ that was the intention of bringing her on board the ship, to have somebody force the Legends to push themselves a little more.”

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow returns to CTV this fall.

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