Mehcad Brooks talks to Awards Daily about the upcoming fourth season of Supergirl, the first trans superhero, and where the show’s push for inclusion comes from.
If Mehcad Brooks had a superpower, it would be his “triple threat” status in Hollywood. He currently plays James Olsen on CW’s Supergirl, has a hilarious role in this fall’s Nobody’s Fool with Tiffany Haddish, and sings and produces his own music. Brooks believes a higher power may have been at work when it comes to all of his creative pursuits.
“I had a death experience, where I flat-lined on May 20, 2009,” says Brooks. “I came back and the last question I asked myself in my conscious thoughts [was] ‘Did I do what I was supposed to do while I was here?’ And the answer was no because I didn’t try full force for my music career. Two years later, to the day, May 20, 2011, I was hit by a car and went into a coma, and I had a very similar experience, and that brought me to a place where I couldn’t put this off any longer. I’m always going to do what I feel is fulfilling me in agreement with my soul.”
Brooks put out his first album, appropriately titled May 20th, on July 13, he notes with a laugh. “The first single has over a million streams, which is incredible for an independent artist. I’m really happy and really blessed.”
When asked about which craft he likes best, he says: “To me, they are all storytelling. I don’t come from a musical family, but I come from a storytelling family.”
On Working with ‘America’s [Self-Proclaimed] Ratchet’
Brooks got to work with one of Hollywood’s most prolific storytellers for the comedy, Nobody’s Fool, starring Tiffany Haddish, in theaters this November.
“Tyler Perry is an inspiration. He’s like a mixture between Oprah, Barack Obama, and Sidney Poitier. I’ve never seen anything like it. He gave me a chance to do something in Hollywood that very few people have given me a chance to do, which is to do slapstick comedy.”
Brooks admits that he had a hard time finishing scenes without crying from laughing so hard.
“It’s what I did as a kid. It’s why I wanted to be an actor in the first place. I’m getting back to the roots of why I wanted to do this. I got to be an absolute fool, but within the reason of the world of film.”
He and “national treasure” Haddish ended up becoming buds, with Brooks even referring to her as “America’s Sweetheart,” something she disagreed with.
“She said, ‘Excuse me. I’m America’s Ratchet.’ She’s impossible not to love, because she truly is who she is at all times.”
Supergirl, Season 4
When the superhero series returns for its fourth season on October 14, Supergirl will be implementing some allegorical elements of what America is going through today, with Brooks calling it “the best season we’ve had so far.”
“We’re dealing with the fact that there’s a rise in alt-right sentiments,” he says, “but we’re treating that allegorically and the fact that we have aliens in our world, so it’s humans versus aliens. We’re not going to be punching anyone in the nose, but if you’re over 10 or 12 years old, you’re going to be able to figure out what the correlations are. I’m really proud of that. We’re opening up a dialogue about immigration, human equity, and continuing the Civil Rights movement as it pertains to all humans, and in our world, aliens as well, just living beings.”
Season 4 of the CW series also introduces the first ever trans superhero, played by trans actress Nicole Maines.
“The character is a very strong woman, and she comes in as an incredibly principled reporter who has high morals and standards. Nicole Maines is one of my heroes. She’s amazing. We’re becoming really fast friends, and I consider her like a little sister at this point. She’s just amazing. That’s a testament to the producers, studio, and network putting the right people together constantly. We don’t have any bad apples. It’s amazing that we can extend this family year after year after year, and also extend the idea of inclusion year after year after year. I’m very proud to be a part of that. I’m on the right side of history.”
Supergirl as a Microcosm for Female Leadership
Supergirl is also a rare breed of a show that includes women in the showrunner’s chairs (Jessica Queller) and making up more than half of the writers in the writers’ room. Brooks sees the need for more women to be included everywhere, but especially at the highest offices of government.
“Generally, having more women in charge, at the very least having an equal balance of gender at the helm, is a great thing for anything. If you look at Congress, we have 20 percent women and that place needs an overhaul. We’ve done a really bad job incorporating gender equality into our leadership and where has it gotten us? It’s gotten us into international pissing matches and a really aggressive posture between countries. I think Supergirl can be a microcosm of what gender equality leadership looks like. I think we’re doing a good job.”
Brooks believes that all women understand something that white men don’t, which is the feeling of disenfranchisement, something that all women share with minority males.
“Our struggles are very similar, much more similar than what the status quo’s power and their experience is. I think when you inject gender equality and/or women into the helm of anything, it improves things. There’s more compassion, understanding, inclusion. I think we’ve really benefited from that. I think that’s where we should be headed. Not just television, but film and music. I’m tired of hearing misogynistic songs. I think we should be going that way in government and in our society—period.”
When asked where this push for inclusion comes from, Brooks points to the Supergirl team simply being “people who have their eyes open.”
The world is diverse. The world is not inclusive, let’s be honest about it. It’s a very exclusive world, a very tribal world. I think Supergirl and Greg Berlanti, Robert Rovner, Jessica Queller, and Peter Roth – they just have their eyes open and have a different mentality of what tribalism is. They think tribalism is mankind. They believe we’re all just one tribe. That’s all there is to it. I don’t think we’re doing anything special. I think we’re just reflecting the world that we live in.”
Supergirl returns for Season 4 on the CW on October 14, 2018.