Luke Cage actor Simone Missick on Misty Knight: 'It’s important to see varying shades of black people on screen'

#MistySoLit

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The Independent Culture

With the release of Luke Cage, the Netflix-watching world will have just one name on their lips: Simone Missik. The actor plays Misty Knight, the show's straight-talking NYPD officer trying to take down Harlem mobster Cottonmouth. No doubt, she'll be the show's break-out star.

Sitting down with The Independent one sunny day in a Paris hotel room, Missik talked Misty, diversity, her future with Netflix and #MistySoLit. Read our Q&A below.

Hi Simone, lovely to meet you. What attracted you to the show?

[Laughing] They offered me a role, which is attractive. I read the sides for Misty and just thought this is something you don’t see often with women, especially women of colour, where you get to be this smart and self-assured, and powerful. Also vulnerable. It was just such a gift every day because she’s not just one thing - she’s three-dimensional - which you just don’t see every day with women. It was exciting. 

Luke Cage Streets Trailer - Netflix

In the first episode your character goes off with Luke Cage and it seems, at first, that Misty would be just another girlfriend, but then that trope gets flipped on its head. 

When I got the script and it read that they hook up and have sex I was like ‘Whaaaaaat. Oh no. Did we talk about nudity?’ Because I didn't think that was what was going to happen with that character. And there is the fear, that she becomes the girlfriend, the love interest, but they didn’t write her like that at all. They were actually very interested in making them opposing forces, which was great. It’s wonderful to play against as a character because she was attracted but at the same time has no desire to be with Luke Cage because she was so dedicated to the job. It was a lot of fun and turning that traditional ‘idea’ around - which we see so often in superhero shows and movies - was great. 

You share just as much screen time with Cage, it could be the Misty and Luke show really. It must have been liberating having that much time with the character?

It was! They don’t tell you what you’re getting into and I had no idea it would be this expansive. Every script, I felt liberated. I felt the ability to grow, not just having the supporting actor role. It’s a credit to the writing team to make her story just as important. 

The cast is incredible, it must have been ecstatically fun on set?

I love our cast and crew so much. The crew is like a family, they travelled from Daredevil to Jessica Jones to Luke, and they’ve just finished Iron Fist. Then there’s Mike [Colter] and Mahershala [Ali] who were the brothers I never knew I wanted. Then you’ve got Alfre [Woodard] who is the funniest person you have met, which you wouldn’t think because she’s Alfre Woodard. Emmy-nominated and winner Alfre Woodard, how are you this cool and hip? She’s just awesome, they’re all so much fun to work with off camera. Then on camera they all take it very seriously, everyone wanted to make this show what it is. Everyone came from a certain perspective which was fun to work on.

The show is great which feels like it is knocking down doors. It’s a predominantly black cast for a superhero show. Do you think that’s important for right now?

It is super important. It’s the first to air in 190 countries at once which is mind-blowing, for one. For it to be this show, a superhero show with people of colour and amazing female characters, I think that it gives the world a different perspective on what you see going on in the media right now. You feel in America, black people are people targeted, hunted, or they’re being vilified. The thought is they are all thugs and they should all be shot by the police, it’s important to see varying shades of black people. We have bad people. We have good people. We have good people who do villainous acts. You get to see them as human being, as you do with most other shows. It’s important to come out now just to get the conversation about what makes a good character.

Luke Cage trailer

Do you think it marks a significant change in Hollywood? 

I think it does. Netflix has always been ahead of the curve with the way they choose their stories. Just look at Stranger Things, doing a show with kids and a varied cast. They love telling good stories. I don’t know how many black superhero shows I’ve heard about since Luke Cage’s trailer came out. It was like ‘Huh, interesting timing’. But it will get people working, which is exciting. Hopefully, it won’t be just a bunch of copycat Luke Cage’s, it will be other more exciting stories about people of colour. 

This also feels like a big moment in your career. Are you excited for what is to come after?

I am! I think that thankfully Netflix will keep me working for some time. It will be interesting to explore more Misty Knight as a character. I’ll get the opportunity to live the career I’ve always wanted to live. Luckily I’m in the Netflix family and they keep you close. Just look at Alfre, doing Lemony Snicket, Mahershala from House of Cards.

I was speaking to Mahershala earlier, he said social media has played a huge role in people being able to voice their opinions and demand shows like this. How important do you think social media has been in making Luke Cage a reality?

It’s played an enormous part. I don’t know what goes on behind the scenes at Netflix, but the response at Comic-Con and the subsequent online response, it’s changed the way I’m being used to promote the show. Fans are very excited for Misty Knight and they’re responding to that. But then there are also those people who reach out saying ‘We’re going to Tweet #MistySoLit.’ It shows Netflix there’s an immediate audience built in.

Had you read the comics before?

My introduction to them was this job. I read Archie Comics as a kid and I knew Storm, a female black superhero. I was just not at all familiar, my favourite was Wolverine. It’s been a fast introduction.

It must be great bringing another female superhero of colour to public attention again?

It’s an honour, it really is. There are so many other female superheroes of colour people are discussing now in other projects. It’s exciting, I feel like it’s another wave of something, like being around for the birth of hip-hop in the Bronx. It’s amazing.

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