Actress Javicia Leslie hit the headlines when she was cast as the first Black live-action Batwoman in 2020, going on to become a superhero fan favourite in the title role for two seasons on the GLAAD Award-nominated series (streaming now on HBO Max). Next year, she will be seen donning the bat-cape and cowl once again, reprising the role in the final season of The CW’s Emmy-nominated The Flash. In a change of pace from taking on Gotham’s supervillains, she can be seen in director Daryl Wein’s heartwarming New York-set holiday rom-com Something From Tiffany’s, which launches globally on Prime Video on Friday, December 9th, 2022. Based on the book by Melissa Hill, the film is written by Tamara Chestna and produced by Reese Witherspoon through her Hello Sunshine company, and stars Zoey Deutch and Kendrick Sampson.
Ahead of the movie’s premiere on Prime Video, Javicia Leslie spoke exclusively with The Queer Review’s editor James Kleinmann about working opposite Jojo T. Gibbs as her screen wife in Something From Tiffany’s, helping to create meaningful queer representation in this genre, when she first felt seen on screen, why Boomerang is her go-to rom-rom, and her favorite LGBTQ+ culture.
James Kleinmann, The Queer Review: what did you enjoy about taking on the role of Sophia in Something From Tiffany’s?
Javicia Leslie: “I was wrapping our third season of Batwoman and coming from an action-based, darker show like that to a character like this who is just there and light and free and loving felt different, like a breath of fresh air. It was shaking things up. As actors, we never want to just do one thing, we always want to be able to diversify our roles and our experiences. I loved her style too! When I went through the fittings, they showed me what they were going for, and I was like, ‘I’ve never done this!’ I had glasses on and she’s very New York, very Soho. It’s this really cute vibe and it brought me back to when I was living in New York myself. It was a beautiful palette when it came to the way that the film was shot and how we were styled for the film. I was also really excited to work with Hello Sunshine and to work with JoJo T. Gibbs. We have mutual friends, but we hadn’t met before. As soon as we did our chemistry read, I was like, ‘Ah, I like her!’ And we’ve been friends ever since.”
You and JoJo T Gibbs play wives in the film, what was it like creating that on-screen relationship with her?
“It was easy! It was so easy we were like, ‘Oh, we need to figure something out to do this again. We’ve got to find another project together!” We had so much fun, it made my day to go play with Jojo on set because she’s so funny and our chemistry and our connection is really fluid, it flowed seamlessly. In our scenes together we immediately fell into our character’s roles. They had already shot a lot of the film before I came on and it’s always a worry when you bring a new actor on whether it’s going to feel cohesive with the way that the film is flowing and JoJo made it so easy for me.”
How meaningful is it for you to create this kind of screen representation in a holiday rom-com?
“Most of the characters I’ve played have been queer, but I feel like with this one, putting it in a holiday rom-com, it’s just continuing to show our representation in every aspect. The importance of that, is that it normalizes us—even though we know we’re normal—but it’s for the world to see. A rom-com, especially holiday rom-com, is something that’s going to be in the centre of everyone’s living room. People in all parts of the world are going to sit with their families during the holidays and watch holiday rom-coms, so to be able to represent a queer character in that space is really dope.”
As you mentioned, you’ve played queer characters before and a lot of people will have felt seen and represented by the characters you’ve played. As a viewer, when was the first time that you really identified with a character or felt seen on screen?
“I don’t know when the first time was, I just remember little moments when I felt represented. Watching Family Matters made me feel represented because they were just this healthy, Black family on television in normal situations that we didn’t really get the opportunity to show on television. I remember when I saw Cher in Clueless I said, ‘Oh, man, I feel like that’s the older me!’ I don’t know that it was a representation of me, maybe it was more of a goal of mine, but that was something that I felt connected to.”
When it comes to holiday movies, do you have a go-to to watch around this time of year?
“I love Home Alone, the first classic Home Alone; it’s one of my favorite holiday movies.”
What about when it comes to rom-coms, do you have a favorite when you need a good laugh, cry or to be uplifted?
“My favorite rom-com is Boomerang with Eddie Murphy. I love it because there are so many layers to that film. It finishes one plot, then moves on to another plot, and then moves to this other plot, all while there’s still one consistent plot happening. So you feel like you’re going on this journey. It’s so funny. It’s so Black. It’s it’s so sexy. Eddie is everything in that film. It’s one of the first times I that ever saw Robin Givens on screen, who ended up playing my mom on Batwoman. To me, she’s an acting legend, so to be able to see these legends have fun with each other at the beginning of their careers is really cool. I have that movie downloaded on every streaming service so that whenever I’m out of town I can play it on my computer, lay down and go to sleep.”
It’s great to have a movie that you can rely on like that.
“I know all the words, all the songs, everything!”
Finally, what’s your favorite piece of LGBTQ+ culture, or a person who identifies as LGBTQ+; someone or something that’s had an impact on you and resonated with you over the years?
“Music-wise, I’m obsessed with Kehlani. She knows that because I say it all the time. I might have a little crush! In terms of television I like Yellowjackets. I have a really close friend that’s on that show and her character is queer, Jasmine Savoy Brown. She is as well. I love when we’re able to play ourselves in certain aspects. Movie-wise, Clueless was the first time that I remember seeing queer characters in a film as a child and realized what was going on. I was like, ‘Oh, he’s gay. I love it!’ Oh, and there’s this movie with Queen Latifah called Set It Off. That’s a classic. Her character is gay in it and, man, that film was just so epic. It was so good! That woman should have got an Oscar for that performance, she’s so phenomenal in it.”
By James Kleinmann
Something from Tiffany’s is available to stream globally on Prime Video now.