Kaci Walfall plays Naomie McDuffie in “Naomi”. Photo courtesy of The CW
LOS ANGELES, January 11 (UPI) – Kaci Walfall, who plays the main character in Noémie, premiering Tuesday on The CW, said her character was a reluctant superhero – a DC Comics character who finds out she has powers in high school.
“I really wonder what I would do if I found out I have powers?” Walfall, 17, told a Television Critics Association Zoom panel. “Maybe finding out you’re a superhero isn’t something you’re completely passionate about.”
Her character, Naomi McDuffie, is a fan of the Superman comics in the series. She lives with adoptive parents (Barry Watson and Mouzam Makkar) because her biological parents died in a mysterious accident.
In the first episode, Naomi meets Dee (Alexander Wraith), who tells Naomi about her lineage from another planet. Dee tries to teach her to use her powers, but Naomi just wants to be an ordinary girl.
“I think anyone with power feels responsible,” Walfall said. “She’s only 16, so I think she’s struggling with that.”
Comic book writers Brian Michael Bendis and David F. Walker created Naomi, first published in 2019, with artist Jamal Campbell. Walfall said she read the comics after landing the role and was already familiar with The CW’s other comic book hero shows.
“I watched Super girl religiously in college all the time, ”Walfall said. ” I watched Flash, so I was a bit of a movie fan, but I’ve never read comics before. “
Filmmaker Ava DuVernay developed the CW adaptation with writing partner Jill Blankenship. DuVernay said superpowers come after a universal childhood story.
“I’m thinking of a coming-of-age story first,” said DuVernay. “The best stories are the ones where things happen that we can all relate to.”
The first season of Naomi will gradually reveal Naomi’s powers. Walfall said she gets to know her character as her character gets to know herself.
“I think the way I embody the powers in Episode 2 will be different from the way I embody the powers in, say, Episode 11,” Walfall said. “As the series goes on, it gets a little bit more understanding and it just gets better and better with each episode.”
As a director and producer, DuVernay addressed social issues like the prison industrial complex in her documentary 13th, Martin Luther King Jr. in the drama Selma and the Central Park Five in the drama When they see us. DuVernay said Naomi is also a vehicle for normalizing the view of black characters on screen.
“It’s not about representation,” said DuVernay. “It’s about normalization. The more you can represent images without underlining them, highlighting them and putting a star next to them, we start to make that normal.”
As a child, Walfall starred in The Lion King on Broadway and the tour company of Mathilde. At age 9, Walfall had a recurring role in Military women, and subsequently appeared in episodes of Person of Interest, Power, The Equalizer and Modern love.
Naomi is Walfall’s first leading role in a series. She sent the producers an audition tape based on a character breakdown that was emailed to her.
“When I really saw the character and read the description, I really felt connected and loved his sense of confidence,” Walfall said.
Walfall had a live Zoom interview with DuVernay two weeks later. After talking a bit more with DuVernay, Wallfall flew to Los Angeles to audition with DuVernay and test with other actors. She got the role a week later.
Naomi airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST on The CW.