Leslie said she is “extremely proud” to be the first Black woman to wear the batsuit.
“I am extremely proud to be the first Black actress to play the iconic role of Batwoman on television, and as a bisexual woman, I am honoured to join this groundbreaking show which has been such a trailblazer for the LGBTQ+ community,” Leslie said in a statement.
Read more: Ruby Rose exits ‘Batwoman’ ahead of Season 2
Leslie is best known for playing Ali on God Friended Me, and she played Paris Duncan on Family Business on BET.
The new Batwoman will not be Kate Kane, previously played by Rose.
“Ryan Wilder is about to become Batwoman,” the official character description reads. “She’s likable, messy, a little goofy and untamed. She’s also nothing like Kate Kane, the woman who wore the Batsuit before her. With no one in her life to keep her on track, Ryan spent years as a drug-runner, dodging the GCPD and masking her pain with bad habits.
“Today Ryan lives in her van with her plant. A girl who would steal milk for an alley cat and could also kill you with her bare hands, Ryan is the most dangerous type of fighter: highly skilled and wildly undisciplined. An out lesbian. Athletic. Raw. Passionate. Fallible. And very much not your stereotypical all-American hero.”
Rose’s exit from the series was announced in May.
“I have made the very difficult decision to not return to Batwoman next season,” Rose said in a statement after Season 1 concluded.
“This was not a decision I made lightly as I have the utmost respect for the cast, crew and everyone involved with the show in both Vancouver and in Los Angeles.
“I am beyond appreciative to Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Caroline Dries for not only giving me this incredible opportunity, but for welcoming me into the DC universe they have so beautifully created. Thank you Peter Roth and Mark Pedowitz and the teams at Warner Bros. and The CW who put so much into the show and always believed in me. Thank you to everyone who made season one a success — I am truly grateful.”
Rose congratulated Leslie on Instagram after news of her casting spread.
“OMG!! This is amazing!! I am so glad Batwoman will be played by an amazing Black woman. I want to congratulate Javicia Leslie on taking over the bat cape. You are walking into an amazing cast and crew. I can’t wait to watch season 2 you are going to be amazing,” Rose wrote.
In June, Batwoman showrunner Dries tried to explain that the role of Batwoman was being recast and not the role of Kane.
“As a lesbian who’s been working as a writer for the past fifteen years, I’m well aware of the ‘Bury Your Gays’ trope and I have no interest in participating in it. That’s why it’s important to me as the showrunner to clarify any misinformation out there about Kate Kane and recasting Batwoman,” Dries wrote.
“Like you, I love Kate Kane – she’s the reason I wanted to do the show. We’ll never erase her. In fact, her disappearance will be one of the mysteries of season two. I don’t want to give away any of our surprises, but to all our devoted fans, please know that LGBTQ+ justice is at the very core of what Batwoman is and we have no intention of abandoning that.”
Leslie will make her debut as Batwoman in January 2021 when the show is expected to return.