LOS ANGELES, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Season 2 of The CW's Batwoman will introduce Javicia Leslie as Ryan Wilder. Wilder becomes the new Batwoman, and Leslie said she represents the people of Gotham City for whom Batman and Batwoman fought.
"You have someone that's kind of the underdog that's wearing the batsuit," Leslie told UPI in a recent phone interview. "She represents a community of people who have been overlooked for a very long time."
The show had to find a new Batwoman when former star Ruby Rose announced her departure in May. Rose played Kate Kane, who inherited cousin Bruce Wayne's Batman arsenal.
Season 2 begins with Kane dying in a plane crash. Wilder finds Kane's Batwoman costume and takes over her crime fighting.
Leslie said she auditioned for the role of Wilder in June. The actor said she appreciated that her new character would represent someone who came from the streets of Gotham City, not the wealth and privilege of Wayne and Kane.
"Outside of the suit, she lives out of her van," Leslie said.
Wilder grew up in the Gotham City foster system after her mother died in childbirth. She was adopted as a teenager, but her adoptive mother was killed by Gotham City criminals.
"When her mother was killed, she had to kind of go back into the streets to figure out life for herself," Leslie said. "She ended up hanging around the wrong people, and that landed her in jail for, I believe, 18 months."
Wilder struggles to rebuild her life after prison. A conviction for drug possession makes it difficult for her to find work. When she becomes Batwoman, Wilder gets a taste of Kate Kane's life.
"Once you have the suit on, you have everything that comes with the suit," Leslie said. "It's not like Batwoman comes from poverty. The girl that is Batwoman comes from poverty."
In Season 1, Kane became Batwoman to fill the void left by Wayne's absence. To Leslie, when Wilder becomes Batwoman, it has a different message. Leslie feels her character shows viewers that you don't have to have privilege or resources to be a hero.
"Anyone can be a hero," Leslie said. "We all have a hero within us."
When Wilder gains the opportunity to take over as Batwoman, she also realizes the responsibility that comes with being a superhero. Wilder puts aside her own needs to help the people of Gotham City.
It only takes a few nights out as Batwoman for Wilder to learn what a toll crime fighting takes on her real life. During the day, Wilder still needs to find a job and check in with her parole officer.
"She has to hide that double identity from everyone," Leslie said. "[It's] definitely a struggle for her to be able to be the right version of Ryan while also being the best version of Batwoman."
In October, The CW said that Wilder would develop her own Batwoman costume. Leslie said she'll wear the new suit by the third episode of Season 2. For the episodes in which Wilder wears Kane's costume, Batwoman still had to design a brand new suit to fit Leslie.
"We're two different sizes," Leslie said. "You have to go in and get fitted for the suit for your body type."
Before Batwoman, Leslie starred simultaneously on God Friended Me and The Family Business. Leslie said she would film Friended for three days in New York and then fly to Los Angeles for three days on Business.
After that experience, focusing entirely on Batwoman was a delight.
"It's a relief that I'm in one place, yes," Leslie said.
Batwoman returns Sunday at 8 p.m. EST on The CW.