“I just wanted people to feel how I felt when I connected with Cyborg” – A Candid Talk with Joivan Wade of Doom Patrol

The second season of Doom Patrol is now available on HBO MAX and the DC Universe App. By now, my love for the series has been well documented and is well known. And now I am very happy to report that I got a chance to sit down with Joivan Wade, the brilliant actor who plays Cyborg, about all things fandom and real-world related.

BNP: So I saw that you had a Twitter Takeover earlier this week (June 28th, 2020), and I was just wondering what it was like getting to engage the fans in that way over social media?

Joivan: It was sick man. I really enjoyed it. I think we don’t get enough opportunity to really connect. Well, I haven’t personally, and I do try. I would say I’m one of those actors who do enjoy really connecting with the fans, going out of my way to give them as much of an experience as possible. I think back to when I was kid, you know watching my favorite superheroes shows, and if I made a comment and one of the actors replied to me it would make my year. So I try as much as I can to engage and that takeover was the perfect opportunity to do so. Really just kinda get into all sorts of questions that people have been asking and yeah, just really connect and give Vic a chance to connect with the wonderful views.

BNP: What were some of your favorite superhero shows growing up?

Joivan: My favorite superhero shows… Smallville was one of my biggest favorites. I loved Smallville. Teen Titans, as a kid, was the biggest superhero cartoon show that I watched. The 2003 Cartoon Network edition and that was probably the biggest TV show I watched y’know and that was great with the irony. And then yeah, I watched a lot of X-Men. All of the big comic book shows that ended up in the TV space and naturally every film. I think I’ve seen every single superhero film, whatever its inspiration has been. And yeah, all of the TV shows or at least some of the episodes. I’m interested in the space and I’m in love with superheroes.

BNP: You bring up Teen Titans, the 2003 animated series, and that’s just one of the many iterations of Cyborg we’ve seen: between that, Teen Titans Go!, Young Justice, animated films, another live action Cyborg in Justice League. How did you prepare to become Cyborg and how do these other iteration effect how you prepare?

Joivan: I actually kinda just looked at… first of all, because I watched Teen Titans and very much favored Cyborg and he’s probably my favorite superhero since I was a kid. I just wanted people to feel how I felt when I connected with Cyborg with that 2003 animation and I watched every other iterations. I read all the big comics and all the materials that Cyborg has appeared in and just kinda took all of the elements and pieces that I felt like were closest to that experience that I got from the 2003 edition. I wanted to make the character as lovable as possible, but at the same time: he’s Vic Stone and he is Cyborg and trying to find that balance with those iterations. Ray Fisher, I think he’s a phenomenal actor, but I just wish that we got to see more of the Vic Stone side.

And that was one of the biggest things I focused on my version of the character, being able to differentiate Cyborg from Vic Stone and make sure that our audience could connect by feeling a real human being, a relatable human being behind him. When you watch Teen Titans and you see how much fun Cyborg is having with Beast Boys and waffles and pizza… All of that stuff is what made for me the character so, yeah. I took all of the things that I loved and that I have seen and the things that resonated and put into a big mixing pot alongside all the things I thought instinctively.

BNP: That is… that is just really cool. That makes me really happy. Haha.

BNP: Anyways, before we talk about season 2 a little bit, are there any moments off-camera and on-camera from season 1 that you want to highlight?

Joivan: Um… yeah, well. Season 1 was phenomenal. I really enjoyed how the writing room created the intro for Cyborg. I thought it was badass, I thought it was wicked, I thought there was no better way to introduce the character than to kick off at the ATM. So my introduction, when I ready it on paper was like “YEAAAAH.” So yeah my first opening scene I loved and then there was in the middle where Vic in Episode 5 where he shuts down and the team has to call his dad to help him reboot, that scene was really powerful. Even on the day, it took a lot to y’know to get it done, but it came out beautifully.

via GIPHY

And then finally, “Cyborg Patrol”. That was probably some of my most powerful work and definitely my most proud within the series and having a whole episode where we really got to focus on Vic, almost felt like a mini Cyborg movie. It was really cool to be a part of and just really stretch myself as an actor to be able to jump into those different spaces as a superhero. So those are my three proudest moments of season 1.

BNP: Cool. Talking about season 2 now: in the second episode, there was this really poignant scene where Cyborg apprehends a kid in the midst of a purse snatching and then he’s talked out of reporting him to the cops. Given the state of the world when you were filming and now, what was it like filming the scene and do you have any additional commentary?

Joivan: Well, that’s the funny thing. It’s so crazy because we are in a world where we have experience so much police brutality and y’know the constant ongoing systematic racism and it kind of felt possible when we started shooting. It was something that was really prevalent to really speak about and we had a discussion about it and we had no idea what the world would be, where the climate is now when the episode came out. And I almost forgot that was there. When I watched it when it came out, I was like, “Oh my god. How much more timely could we possibly be?” and yeah it just felt great to make a firm contribution and thought provoke into thinking about this climate.

BNP: I appreciate that insight. Pivoting away from that, how are you keeping busy during these strange times?

Joivan: I’m actually keeping well amongst all of the craziness. I feel like real emotion and change, and I feel like the “first” pandemic was an opportunity for us to all really stand still and think about where we are in life and what is happening. And I feel like the wave of Black Lives Matter movement would have never have happened if the first pandemic didn’t happen and people weren’t able to notice and take notice and not be too busy to take time to understand what was happening and learn and build, and that’s why I believe it’s been one of the biggest civil rights movements in history because the world has stopped.

I’m really interested in a world where things haven’t stopped and the same things happen, because that’s essentially what has been happening for hundreds of years. It’s been happening. Nothing has changed. People have been killed over the years, but it’s gotten to this moment because of the stillness of the time. So I just have used this time to really put myself behind the movement and really use my voice, *literally*, and being on the front lines of the actual protest, and *creatively*

I got a short film coming out called Wade in the Water which is about the movement and is using spoken word and and short film to allow me to voice my thoughts and opinions on everything going and give that perspective. So yeah, I’m here and I’m all for it. The change is progressing.

BNP: Nice. To round out our time, is there anything you want to say to our readership at Black Nerd Problems?

Joivan: Yeah. First of all, thank you guys for what you guys are doing. I think it is a really great perspective that we had and I’m all for more Black power and more Black opportunities and perspectives because our voices are not heard enough. So, big shoutout to you guys and thank you for taking time for interview and really help get this perspective out and shed light on such a prevalent Black superhero. It’s been great.

And last but not least, I actually started a YouTube channel which I’m going to be putting out a ton of content. I’ve already started putting out acting tips, and I got a bunch of videos from the Doom Patrol from when we were shooting and stuff that I’m going to cut together so we can get some more BTS stuff and give more insight. So that’s something I’d like you all to know about, but yeah man. Thank you.

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  • Mikkel Snyder is a technical writer by day and pop culture curator and critic all other times.

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