Interview with Warner Bros. actors by Suzanne 2/14/22
This was a fun panel for TCA (Television Critics Association) put on by Warner Brothers. I enjoyed the one they did last year, so I knew I would love this one, too. They didn’t disappoint. Last year’s was about comedy, and this year’s was about romance (since it was held on Valentine’s Day). It was called “With Love, Warner Bros. Television Group” and featured some of their best romances from their current shows: Javicia Leslie (Ryan Wilder) & Meagan Tandy (Sophie Moore) from Batwoman, Billy Gardell (Bob) & Folake Olowofoyeku (Abishola) from Bob ❤ Abishola, and Clayton Echard from The Bachelor.
I never miss an episode of “Batwoman” or “Bob ❤ Abishola,” so it was great to see the actors here. I’ve spoken with Javicia before, but it was great to see Meagan Tandy as well. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to ask a question this time around, but I enjoyed being there.
With Love, Warner Bros. Television Group
Javicia Leslie, Batwoman
Meagan Tandy, Batwoman
Billy Gardell, Bob ❤ Abishola
Folake Olowofoyeku, Bob ❤ Abishola
Clayton Echard, The Bachelor
2022 Virtual Tour
Los Angeles, CA
February 14, 2022
© 2022 Warner Bros. All rights reserved.
First, Javicia and Meagan were asked if they feel any special responsibility, since they’re the “first black lesbian leading couple on a superhero show.” Javicia answered that the whole show was a huge responsibility and featured many firsts. They make sure that they present themselves in a good way, both on- and off-camera, especially since their audience includes many children. It’s important to them to show a positive representation. Meagan agreed with that. She realized, after talking with teens, that having LGBTQ and black women on their show is a lot bigger than just the actors. She tries to tell the stories as authentically as she can. She was also asked about going from loving Kate to being with Ryan. She admitted that it was a “love rollercoaster” for Sophie, since she was married to man and in the closet in the first season. Then she had to deal with her feelings for Kate, and then all that happened with Kate leaving, and then Ryan coming into the picture. She said that it was “quite the journey for her,” but it’s been fun for her as an actor.
Javicia was asked whether she had been more concerned beforehand about taking over the physical part of playing Batwoman, or the emotional parts (with all of her family and romantic relationships). Javicia said she was most worried about whether the fans would approve of her or not, since she’s a superhero fan herself and loves “Batman.” She wasn’t worried about the physicality because she had done martial arts before, which is fun. She’s a dramatic actor, so she loves crying and all that. She loves that there are many fans of the show who love “Batwoman,” even if they may have lost some comic fans who don’t like that it’s not the Batman or Batwoman that they knew from the comics. She’s proud to be a part of this “new representation.” She tweets with her fans all the time, and they make it worth while for her. She’s “honored” to be a part of the show’s fanbase.
All of the actors were asked, which TV shows they used to watch that taught them “the most about love and how it gave you more perspective.”
Javicia spoke about the show “Martin” and how the characters Martin and Gina teased each other. It showed her that you need to have friendship and laughter in a relationship. She also mentioned watching the show “Family Matters” and other shows from that time.
Meagan said that she watched those shows, too, but her favorite was “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” because it was about a whole family’s love for each other, not just a couple. Her friends all loved the Disney movies with princess, which she didn’t like. Now they tease her because she’s in her 30’s and not married, but she has a boyfriend, so she hopes they’ll make it work. Javicia spoke encouraging to her about her boyfriend, saying, “Y’all will,” which was very cute. Then Meagan replied, “We’ll see where he takes me to dinner tonight,” and everyone laughed.
Meagan was asked about Sophie falling for two Batwomen and whether that’s her “type,” and also whether she’ll be talking to the writers about suiting up, like everyone else has. Meagan chattered about how originally she wasn’t going to be with Ryan, but then they changed their minds. Also, she was with Julia, who had also dressed like Batwoman, so it was really three Batwomans that Sophie was with. She joked about it, saying she probably has a bit of a fetish. She said that she doesn’t know about getting any kind of superhero suit. She was wearing the Crows uniform, but now that’s gone. She finished with, “So, for now, it’s just the suit of love,” which made everyone laugh.
Javicia and Meagan were asked what they thought people loved about superheroes – is it the need to be protected, or the need to be strong? Why do we fall in love with them? Javicia thinks that her partner is a superhero because a great partner puts your needs before their own, which is “attractive” and “sexy.” So is maybe having kids one day. She thinks that having a person out there saving everyone and helping people makes them attractive and you feel protected and it “just feels like home.” She said it seems to be the same kind of theme with all of them. Meagan agreed with that. She also observed that previous Batman actors were always portrayed by someone “who was really hot,” which made her desire them a bit. She also said that having a protector who is kind and honest, who wants to save people and “doing bigger work than themselves.” She hopes that might inspire people to be like that. Then there’s the fantasy aspect of having a super suit that keeps them protected.
Billy was asked about his Ozempic commercial and whether it was made, in part, to advertise his show. Billy seemed a bit taken aback by the question. It was a very odd question. Billy told us honestly that he didn’t do the commercial for that reason. He had developed Type 2 diabetes, and he had been on a medication that helped him. They asked him to try their medication, so he did, and he waited a year to make sure it worked before he agreed to do the commercial. It helped him get healthier, and not he doesn’t have to take ANY medication. He was able to “turn the corner,” thanks to the medication and being on the right track. He figured he would do the commercial to help others who might need help as well. He just wanted to hold himself accountable to it. He added, “I had to take that journey.” The journalist who asked that question told him that he did look great (and he does!).
Billy and Folake were asked about the possibility of their characters having a baby together on the show. Billy talked in general about how you have to have the discussion with your partner in marriage about whether you’re going to have children, and when, and that the relationships evolve and change. He said that their ages might be factor, and they might have to discuss that. He gave the example of whether Bob would be asking Abishola, “are you gonna be changing my diaper and the baby’s diaper?” Everyone laughed at that. He then praised the show, saying that “it’s never preachy.” It’s just two people in love and trying to do the best they can to be open and honest with each other, to be a strong couple. He told us that he’s been married for 22 years in real life. Folake talked about how much she has enjoyed the season, especially when they went to Nigeria. She says she watches those scenes over and over and loves how they were able to “share a Yoruba wedding with the world.” She also previewed that there are some good scenes coming “with the entire cast.” They’re going to have “a sock commercial,” which will be “really entertaining.” Neither of them really answered much about the baby plot point. They were obviously trying not to share any spoilers.
It was interesting to hear Folake’s real accent. She’s from Nigeria, but she went to boarding school, so she doesn’t have nearly as much of an accent as Abishola does.
In answer to the TV question, Billy talked about how much he loved “The Honeymooners” growing up, which his dad shared with him. He said that at the end of the day, Ralph knew that no matter how much he had messed up, his wife loved him, which made him a little bit more humble. He thinks that’s still a great message. Folake said that she used to watch Spanish telenovelas with the other girls at school, so that’s where she got most of her TV love experience.
They were each asked what they liked best about their real-life “sweethearts”. Folake replied that hers are her cats, which are named Bob and Abishola! She said, “They’re very adventurous and they can take on coyotes!” Billy said that he likes best about his wife that she stays with him. He went on a bit about how great she is: “She’s an amazing woman, and she has always been my rock.” He says that you should always do whatever your wife says. (As a wife, I agree with that)
They were also asked if they were surprised that the show has been embraced so well, given America’s problems with race. Billy said that he wasn’t surprised because the show is about love, and “love is always the secret sauce.” He said it so beautifully, that the audience knows it’s about love, and how the two love each other but have crazy families, and the show is also about how these families merge and can look past their differences. He stated, “it’s the common thread that we all share. In this world, all anybody wants is someone to love, somewhere to live, and a way to pay for that. If you keep it that simple I think people identify with it.”
Folake agreed that the show is all about love, which is what we all want. She also added that it was always going to be successful because it has Chuck Lorre in charge, and his whole production team that is so well-run. She finished with, “everyone is on their A-game, myself included, because we want to live up to that standard.” Billy agreed to that, too. She says it’s not surprising at all, and she thinks it has effects worldwide. It does very well in Africa and India.
Billy was also asked how much weight he’s loss, and he told us that he’s lost 102 pounds. It really does show. He joked that he would like to go on “The Bachelor” next year.
Folake also added her own comments in to the question about why we like superheroes so much. She thinks that is makes a great escape for viewers to just imagine being in that world. She also complimented the show, saying “this generation of Batwoman is like literally the Batwoman of my dreams. I wish I grew up on this shit. I wish I was a kid growing up watching you guys. It is so awesome. You guys are doing a great job.”
Billy loves the superhero stuff and sharing it with his son. He thinks there’s a “hopefulness with it, and I think that’s what superheroes give you, and it’s the feeling of safety. You feel like, wow, I wish someone was out there looking out for us like that.” He also agrees that it’s a way for people to escape, like Folake said.
Clayton was asked how he’s celebrating Valentine’s Day this year (even though he can’t tell us with whom he’s celebrating). He was also asked whether the show helped him with his holiday plans or if they hindered them. Clayton answered that he was recovering today from a “really fun weekend,” so he was drinking a lot of water and trying to save his voice, which was “a little shot.” He said that the dates on the show were “incredible” and he certainly did some things that set the bar very high, but of course he has to be realistic in the future (and on his own budget).
Clayton was also asked about what he learned with being on the show, especially about dating, relationships and what he might not have been doing before. Clayton gave the question some thought before answering. He admitted that he learned a lot, and watching it now on TV has also taught him a lot. He said that learning how to “pick up on body cues” was something that he had previously missed because there is a lot you can miss if you only pay attention to verbal cues. He added that he’s learning more about himself and “how to be a better person” so that he do better in the future.
Clayton replied to the question about TV shows to say that “Spongebob Squarepants” was the one that showed him the most about love. He enjoyed the friendship between Spongebob and Patrick. It showed him that “good friends stand by each other.” He said that we all want that love from both friends and family. Meagan agreed with him about it, saying she watched that show, too.
Clayton also answered about the superheroes. He said that “we’re all dreamers in some aspect, and so as kids we’re told to dream big. And that’s where these superhero movies really allow us to – as we grow up on them, watching them fight and all that – see their super powers. We hope, as we’re kids, to be able to have those same super powers.” We know that we can’t really be that way, but when we’re grownups, we remember that time, back when we were kids and thought we could be Batman or Superman.
WarnerMedia is a leading media and entertainment company that creates and distributes premium and popular content from a diverse array of talented storytellers and journalists to global audiences through its consumer brands including: HBO, HBO Max, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS, truTV, CNN, DC, New Line, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others.
Ryan Wilder in “Batwoman”
Javicia Leslie stars as Ryan Wilder, a goofy, relatable, and street-smart lesbian who transforms into the hero Gotham’s been missing in The CW’s highly anticipated new drama “Batwoman.”
Leslie is known to television audiences for her role as Ali Finer on “God Friended Me” and Paris Duncan on “The Family Business.” On the feature film front, she recently tackled the lead role in hilarious new comedy, “Always a Bridesmaid,” penned by NAACP nominated Yvette Nicole Brown. Leslie also directed two short films this year, “Black Excellence” and “Howl.”
Born in Germany and raised in Maryland, Leslie graduated from Hampton University where she appeared in several productions including “Seven Guitars,” “For Colored Girls” and “Chicago.” As driven philanthropically as she is in her career, Leslie started The Chandler Foundation which gives back to youth in her community. When not filming, she spends her free time with her dog and staying healthy through her passion for fitness.
Sophie Moore in “Batwoman”
Meagan Tandy stars as Sophie Moore, a high-level private security agent and one of Gotham’s staunchest protectors in The CW’s highly anticipated new drama “Batwoman.”
Tandy’s television appearances include roles in “Survivor’s Remorse,” “Teen Wolf,” “Jane By Design,” “Baby Daddy,” “The Mayor,” “Red Band Society,” “Necessary Roughness” and in the breakout critical darling “UnReal,” opposite Shiri Appleby and Constance Zimmer.
On the big screen Tandy starred in John Gulager’s remake of the iconic “Piranha 3DD,” “Unstoppable” and “The Trap,” opposite Queen Latifah and Mike Epps.
At 19, Tandy entered and won the Miss California Teen Pageant. One year later she was named Miss California, USA.
Bob in BOB ♥ ABISHOLA
Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Birthday: August 20
Emmy Award-nominated actor and comedian Billy Gardell starred with Melissa McCarthy in the hit Network series “Mike & Molly” as Officer Mike Biggs from 2010-2016. The series continues to air in syndication. Also, he had a recurring role as Herschel Sparks on YOUNG SHELDON, on the Network, and starred as Col. Tom Parker on the series “Sun Records.” In 2016 he received a Daytime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Game Show Host on “Monopoly Millionaires’ Club.”
Prior to “Mike & Molly,” Gardell co-starred in the critically acclaimed series “Lucky.” His other television credits include “Yes, Dear” and “Judging Amy,” both on the Network, “My Name Is Earl,” “The Practice,” “Monk” and “Gary the Rat,” among others.
He made his major motion picture debut alongside Anthony Quinn and Sylvester Stallone in “Avenging Angelo,” and had a memorable scene with Billy Bob Thornton in the film “Bad Santa.” Also, he appeared in “You, Me & Dupree.”
As a stand-up comedian, Gardell took the long road to Hollywood, stopping at every small-town lounge, military base and comedy club along the way. His comedy act took him to Los Angeles where his dedication to acting and stand-up comedy allowed him to grow consistently in both arenas. His stand-up show is a powerhouse with its grounded, down-to-earth point of view that strikes a strong chord with American audiences. Stories about his rough childhood, wild adolescence and new family life are executed with the skill of a master craftsman.
In 2011, his comedy special “Billy Gardell: Halftime” premiered on Comedy Central. His next special “Billy Gardell Presents Road Dogs” premiered on SHOWTIME in 2013.
A native of Pittsburgh, Gardell currently lives in Los Angeles. He loves Steeler football, stand-up comedy and his wife, Patty, and son, Will. His birthday is August 20. He can be followed on Twitter @BillyGardell and Facebook @billygardell.
Abishola in BOB ♥ ABISHOLA
Birthday: October 26
Nigerian-born actress Folake Olowofoyeku has won the hearts of critics and audiences as Abishola in BOB ♥ ABISHOLA. She received the 2019 Breakout Actress in TV Award for her work on the series on behalf of the Sync Con Honors. Her additional television credits include a recurring role on “Transparent” and guest roles on “The Gifted,” “Modern Family,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” “Westworld,” “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” among others.
Olowofoyeku’s feature film credits include “When They Could Fly,” which earned her a Best Actress award at the prestigious ReelHeART International Film Festival in Toronto, “Central & Broadway,” for which she won Best Actress in a Fashion Film at the CinéFashion Film Awards, “Female Fight Club,” “The Bride,” “The Child Within” and “Hellbenders-3D,” among others.
As a voiceover artist, Olowofoyeku voiced the Priestess on the video game “Vader Immortal: A Star Wars VR Series – Episode 1.” Olowofoyeku’s other passion is music.
Olowofoyeku grew up in Lagos, Nigeria and spent time in London. Her native language is Yoruba. The youngest of 20 children, she always dreamt of being in the arts, a dream that went squarely against the wishes of her parents, Chief Babatunji and Chief Mrs. Felicia Olowofoyeku, who insisted on the family profession of law and politics. During a summer vacation in New York City, unbeknownst to her family, she began to pursue her goal as a student at City College of New York, where she distinguished herself on the basketball court competing with CCNY’s Beavers in the NCAA and earning a B.A. with honors in theater. Additionally, she earned a diploma in audio engineering from the Institute of Audio Research (IAR).
Currently, Olowofoyeku resides in Los Angeles. Her birthdate is Oct. 26. She can be followed on Twitter and Facebook @TheFolake and on Instagram @the.folake.
Clayton Echard, who was first introduced as one of Michelle Young’s suitors in season 18 of “The Bachelorette,” not only connects romantically with the captivating Minneapolis school teacher but is also a favorite of Michelle’s middle school students. Ultimately, however, Michelle sends Clayton home, leading to one of the most emotional and heart-wrenching moments in “Bachelor” history. In that one touching moment, Clayton’s genuine desire to find a partner and start a family shines through, and never has it been so evident that one man deserves a second chance at finding that great love.
Nicknamed “Claynos” by his friends in the house due partly to his sculpted physique, Clayton grows stronger with every rose, opening himself up to Michelle in ways he never thought possible. This Midwestern man proves he is so much more than just a good-looking guy with a rock-hard bod. He’s a throwback romantic who’s not afraid to put himself out there for love.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda