“I took this photo of Chris around the time when Frank Ocean’s Blonde first dropped. After our shoot, we chilled in his car and listened to the whole album straight through. ‘Nights’ is still the first song I put on whenever I get into my car.” —Flashbacks of Last Summer, a photo diary by Zoé Lawrence
We are now well into the second generation of the comic-book arms race, as more and more TV series appear on the air wholly independent of any movie tentpole. The big-budget “Supergirl,” which first premiered on CBS but is moving to the CW for its upcoming second season, is a smart, feminist translation of the DC universe onto the small screen. And its caped star, Melissa Benoist, is a welcome piece of unexpected casting, having come from the song-and-dance school of “Glee.” For the Royals portfolio, we paired her with one of the stalwarts of the first wave of superheroines, Halle Berry, who first appeared as the thunderbolt-throwing Storm, in 2000’s X-Men.
What was the first thing you auditioned for? I think the first thing I ever auditioned for was my aunt’s church production of Alice in Wonderland. And she did give me a part. She was a good aunt, and I played the Ace of Spades and the Bread and Butterfly. This was in Aurora, Colorado, and I missed two of my entrances. [Laughs] I was four.
Did you get the acting bug? Oh, yeah. I had the bug before that, I think. I would put on productions for my family.
Oh, really? You wrote them? Yeah, or it was just me dancing to Bon Jovi for all my stuffed animals. “Dead or Alive.” [Laughs] My family would videotape me secretly. Because I would be shy and stop if I saw them with a camera.
Was there a moment you told your parents you wanted to be an actress? No, I don’t think there was any particular moment. I think they always knew. And I’m pretty sure it was grandpa who told my mom, “That girls needs to be on the stage.” I think they could all just see how much I loved it. I wanted to be on Broadway, and I still do. I grew up singing, and dancing, and acting. Tap dancing was my favorite. So I came to New York to go to college after living in Denver, and then I moved to LA when I got “Glee.”
What did you do for your “Glee” audition? I sang about 12 songs: some Indigo Girls, Sara Bareilles, maybe a David Bowie song, I think some Talking Heads. Like, weird songs you would never think to sing for a “Glee” audition. [Laughs]
Did you get a lot of feedback from the world when you got “Supergirl”? It’s a big responsibility, Supergirl. Yeah, I have learned this. You know, everyone still asks me, “How does it feel to be a role model?” Or, “Do you feel a responsibility or a burden?” And I never did until I would see groups of little girls or young women, and how much they were affected by the “S” and what Supergirl stands for. How much hope she brought. So yeah, I do feel that responsibility. It seems she is someone who people gravitate towards because she’s so full of hope, joy, and optimism.
And they get to be her for Halloween. [Laughs] Right? It’s such a great costume. There’s a skirt. It’s cute, but it’s still modest. You’re not sexy Supergirl, although I’m sure some people will do that.