Chyler Leigh’s character on “Supergirl,” Alex Danvers, experienced a major change in the show’s second season: At age 28, she discovered she was gay. So a character with an already big following suddenly attracted a whole new crowd of fans. Leigh spoke with Variety about the power of the story, especially on a superhero TV show. She’s also been expanding her music work, thanks to husband Nathan West.
What were your initial reactions to hearing about Alex’s character arc?
They said, “This is what we’re thinking. What are your thoughts?” Having a queer character on the show, it’s a really big deal. And I knew the magnitude of this — there’s not a lot of representation out there. We wanted to bring great awareness and tell an authentic story.
Why have so many people taken to this story?
It’s honest, and shows that coming out is a struggle. Alex is a character who’s just figuring it out as a 28-year-old. When you watch her putting all the pieces of the puzzle together, that’s what people have responded to. Her journey, being terrified of the fact that she couldn’t even say the word “gay” or “lesbian” — it’s not the same story for everybody, but the hurt, the struggle, the joy, the confusion, the light-bulb moment … that’s what I think everybody is relating to.
Has the storyline impacted your life?
My 13-year-old son has watched every episode. It opened up a conversation that I might have waited longer to have. He said, “I don’t understand why they would do that with your character.” To say, “Everybody needs to be treated equally” was amazing…. I’ve never been this passionate about my work, mostly because of the impact it’s having.
What’s it like collaborating with your husband on music?
It’s an interesting dynamic, because he’s so amazing with expressing himself through music — it’s his language and voice. And I’m so used to being somebody else; my delivery is other people’s words and bringing my own spin to it. Recording was challenging for me because it’s me; I’m not being somebody else. It was terrifying and hard. He walked me through that, which was amazing.
What you didn’t know about Chyler Leigh
AGE: 34 BORN: Charlotte, N.C. SUPERPOWER: Healing FAVORITE SUPERHERO: Superman GUILTY PLEASURE: “Border Security: Canada’s Front Line” FAVORITE CANDY: Gummy Bears