×

How Trump Inspired ‘DC’s Legends of Tomorrow’ to Add Muslim Superhero

When “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” returns to The CW with its third season this fall, viewers will be introduced to a new superhero: a Muslim computer hack from the future named Zari Adrianna Tomaz, played by actress Tala Ashe.

Adding a Muslim character in the midst of the current political climate was no coincidence.

“You might have heard there was this election,” cracked executive producer Marc Guggenheim on Wednesday at the Television Critics Association press tour in Beverly Hills. “Not to get political, but something that we all gravitated toward in the writers room was making this character Muslim.”

“Representation is a really powerful thing,” said Ashe, who plays the Muslim superhero. “When I was growing up watching television, I didn’t see anyone who looked like me. When I think of the kid version of myself, I think it broadens your perspective. What I think is so lovely about this show is that the Legends are this tapestry that represent America today.”

Stressing that the writers on “Legends of Tomorrow” make a point not to define a character by their race, religion, or sexual orientation, Guggenheim also said that his personal experiences inspired the decision to create a Muslim character this season. Sharing a story about his sister-in-law, who happens to be Muslim, the producer said, “She was talking about how difficult it is to be a Muslim-American in the current political climate. Having a character who’s a computer hacker and is from the future but also happens to be Muslim, it’s a nice, important aspect of her character.”

Asked by a reporter how else global politics have influenced the upcoming season, Guggenheim said, “It’s not just politicians — a lot of the heroes of real life are letting us down.”

“We’re being let down as a society,” Guggenheim continued. “I think the reason why the audience and the creatives are gravitating toward superheroes is because it’s wish-fulfillment. They’re looking to find a little bit of hope and a little bit of escapism that quite frankly doesn’t exist.”

Executive producer Phil Klemmer added, “We’re all looking toward the day when 2017 is in the history book and hopefully isn’t the last day in the history book. I find the current world difficult to comprehend.”

Guggenheim also said that aside from bringing on a Muslim character, the writers were interested in bringing on another female character.

“There weren’t enough women quite frankly,” he said. “It’s something we were looking to address.”

Klemmer chimed in, adding that “Legends” is comprised of an ensemble who all bring different points of view, like Ashe’s character. “We want somebody to bring a new point of view,” he said of introducing new characters. “Whenever you’re doing a scene with eight people, everybody needs to have a distinct voice … it’s interesting to bring in someone who has a totally new perspective on history.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Ree with Sticky Pork

    Food Network Strikes Three-Year Pact With Ree Drummond, 'The Pioneer Woman'

    Ree Drummond will be offering Food Network viewers more hearty family meals for the next three years. Drummond, who has hosted “The Pioneer Woman” on the Discovery-owned network since 2011, has signed a new deal with the outlet that calls for new episodes of her program. “Ree Drummond’s incredible following and popularity has led her [...]

  • David Zaslav

    Steven Spielberg's 'Why We Hate' Is More Timely Than Ever, David Zaslav Says

    The political state of the world today has made the upcoming docuseries “Why We Hate” relevant in a way that its producers, Steven Spielberg and Alex Gibney, hardly expected when they began developing the project five years ago, Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav said Thursday. “Things are much more of a challenge and hate [...]

  • Jada Pinkett Smith, Will Smith. Jada

    Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith's Westbrook Inks Development Pact With Telepool (EXCLUSIVE)

    Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith’s new media venture, Westbrook Inc., has signed a co-development agreement for feature films, television shows and digital entertainment formats with German-based film and TV company Telepool. The move follows the acquisition of Telepool last year by Smith and Elysian Fields, a Zurich-based investment company. Westbrook, launched this year by [...]

  • Shane Gillis SNL Controversy

    Shane Gillis Makes First Stand-Up Appearance Since 'SNL' Firing

    Comedian Shane Gillis made his first public appearance Wednesday night since he was hired by “Saturday Night Live,” then fired from the show days later amid controversy over his use of racist slurs. Appearing on stage at comedy club the Stand in New York City, Gillis performed an 11-minute set that pulled no punches when [...]

  • AMERICAN HORROR STORY: 1984 -- Pictured:

    'American Horror Story' Recap: Welcome to 'Camp Redwood'

    SPOILER ALERT: Do not read if you have not yet watched the season premiere of “American Horror Story: 1984” entitled “Camp Redwood.” Welcome back to “American Horror Story,” which in its ninth season travels back in time to the 1970s and 1980s to play in the slasher genre. Only one episode into the season, it already [...]

  • Connie Britton BlogHer Summit

    Connie Britton on ‘Friday Night Lights’ Remake: ‘You Need to Let it Go’

    Connie Britton opened up at a fireside chat Wednesday at the #BlogHer19 Creators Summit in Brooklyn by talking about one of her most beloved roles — Tami Taylor in the fan favorite series “Friday Night Lights.” When asked if a remake of the sports cult film and Emmy-winning TV show is in the works she [...]

  • Bob IgerSimon Weisenthal Gala honoring Bob

    Bob Iger Would Have Combined Disney With Apple if Steve Jobs Were Still Alive

    Disney and Apple are both launching their own streaming services come November, but Disney CEO Bob Iger says the two companies weren’t always on competing paths. In an excerpt from his autobiography published Wednesday in “Vanity Fair,” Iger revealed that Disney and Apple likely would have merged if Steve Jobs hadn’t died in 2011. “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content