Here's your first look at Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce—better known as Black Lightning!
Williams is joined by Christine Adams, Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain in The CW's "Black Lightning" superhero drama pilot from Greg Berlanti, Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil. Written by Akil and Brock Akil, based on the DC character and to be directed by Akil, "Black Lightning" centers on Jefferson Pierce (Williams). He made his choice: He hung up the suit and his secret identity years ago, but with a daughter, Jennifer (McClain) hellbent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend Black Lightning.
Christine Adams will play Lynn, Jefferson’s ex-wife who exudes confidence and intelligence. Although she’s got a mischievous side, she’s not one to be trifled with when it comes to family.
Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain play his daughters, Anissa and Jennifer Pierce - one a 20-something, passionate and quick-witted, who balances the demands of medical school with her job teaching part-time at her father’s school; and the other is an independent, outspoken scholar-athlete with a wild streak of her own.
In the DC comics, both daughters follow in their father’s footsteps and become superheroes themselves, known as Thunder and Lightning.
As Black Lightning’s executive producer, writer and Director, Salim Akil, explains, “I knew way too much about the world as a young boy growing up in Richmond, California. I was no stranger to violence, death, hopelessness or the feeling that no one cared about what was happening in my life. Comics were a great way for me to escape. I was about 13 when Black Lightning was created, and finally there was a Black Super Hero that gave a damn about our neighborhood and our lives. Resurrecting him at a time in our society when a sense of hope is lacking...Black Lightning will be that hope. And in updating the suit, it will signal to a new generation that it’s time to harness and release our power, and become our own Super Heroes.”
According to DC Comics Universe lore, Black Lightning - created by Tony Isabella and Trevor von Eeden, first appearing in "Black Lightning #1" (1977) - is a superhero with the ability to generate and control lightning. Originally he was a high school principal and Olympic-level athlete who became a vigilante to take down organized crime in Metropolis' Suicide Slum. Eventually he would become a member of Batman's team of Outsiders for many years, although he retired briefly to become secretary of education underneath president Lex Luthor. Returning to crime-fighting, he has also been a member of the Justice League. His two daughters operate as the super-heroes Thunder and Lightning.
Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil will write and executive produce the series with Berlanti Prods’ Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter, for Warner Bros. TV. Recall the Akils inked a 3-year deal with Warner Bros. TV after exiting BET in 2015. "Black Lightning" will be their second project under the new deal; the other is a comedy series titled "Documenting Love" which will center on a modern-day power couple navigating life, love and family.
The "Black Lightning" series has been in the works at Warner Bros. for over a year, going through different variations, because the TV studio wanted to make sure it got the character, his world, and the overall series right.