Candice Patton On The Seismic Shift Of The Superhero Genre + What’s Next For Iris West On “The Flash”

Candice Patton

Photographer: Shane McCauley
Hair: Rena Calhoun
Make-up: Adam Burrell
Styling: Janelle Miller

Candice Patton has defied the expectations of comic book readers, who were surprised to see an African American actress cast as the caucasian DC Comics character Iris West in THE CW’s television series, “The Flash.” But then, that’s Patton for you—the 31-year-old actress, whom many might know from BET’s “The Game” and “The Young and the Restless,” is determined to make an impact. In 2017, she, along with her Arrowverse co-stars Emily Bett, Caity Lotz, Chyler Leigh and Melissa Benoist, Patton launched Shethority, an online collective that aims to inspire and encourage other women to empower themselves. The platform provides women with a space of inclusivity and intimacy in which they can share stories, reach out to one another and diminish the isolation that women feel much too often in society. We chatted with Patton about her social consciousness, breaking boundaries, and what her next big move will be.

Candice Patton

You are active on your social media accounts and engage with your fans. Most recently, you fired back at a someone who made a negative comment about you. As an actor, what are your thoughts on the public having such accessibility to you and their ability to have their opinions made public in such a bigger platform in ways that it didn’t exist before?

I’m on a younger skewing show and that means a lot of my fans are younger skewing and enjoy social media and interacting with their favorite celebrities. I love my fans and some of my absolute favorite experiences being on “The Flash” involve fan encounters, but at the same time I am very private and very old school about how much access people should have. I always want to have a connection with my fans and show appreciation but at the same time there is a difference between me the actor and me the person. And it’s important for me to have boundaries. I don’t want to share everything about my life with the public and so I constantly battle with the line of engaging with fans and protecting myself and my mental health.

There is an expectation for many actors recently, especially women of color to have an understanding and awareness of issues concerning social and racial injustice. Why do you think this is important?

I don’t think there is an expectation especially for women of color to have an understanding and awareness of these issues. We naturally have an understanding and awareness because we live in a world that forces us to be on the receiving end of social and racial injustice and so naturally we speak out because we want change. I think the expectation put on non POC to have a better understanding and awareness for social and racial injustices is so that they can use their privilege and platforms to also speak up and out to be better allies to those experiencing injustices.

Your casting as Iris West was groundbreaking as you are an African American actress playing a white character in the comics. Do you think this has paved the way for other actors in Hollywood?

I don’t know. I definitely have seen a seismic shift especially in the super hero genre in terms of women of color being cast as leading females since my casting in 2014. It’s an amazing shift and if my casting had any impact on that I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity.

You’re currently shooting the six season of “The Flash.” What is next for Iris West?

Reporter Iris West is finally being developed this season. She is getting a team behind her at The Citizen, the newspaper she created, and diving deep into some conspires in Central City.

Candice Patton

Casts always talk about how they become family. Is this true for you? How specifically if so? What is your role within that family? Who are your closest “family members”?

Jesse L Martin and Keiynan Lonsdale who play my father and brother are my closest “family” members. We naturally formed a bond that I think will last outside of the show. In general over six years casts become like a family in many ways. Over time we create lives outside of the show and that becomes our focus. So we all spend considerably less time together as we are all jetting off to be with our friends or families, but we have a rhythm at this point so being on set and working together is seamless

You launched Shethority in 2017. What response have you seen to the collective in the last few years?

It’s been great to see male and female fans of the DCTV world connect through Shethority and find a safe space to talk about and learn about the empowerment of women.

You’ve predominantly focused on TV in the past. Have you considered film? What kind of parts/films intrigue you if so?

I think film is the right next step for me. I’ve learned that I think I benefit from change and new challenges when it comes to my work. I think working on a character for a few months, pouring my heart and soul into and then moving on is great for my creative stimulation and energy. I’m hoping to work on some films in the future. I love smaller independent films, but would love to do comedy as well. I’d also definitely do more television in my future but in a more limited format.

Candice Patton