Heroes & Villains Fan Fest brought together stars from Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Gotham this weekend in Edison, New Jersey for a fun event filled with cosplay, art, merchandise, photo and autograph opportunities, as well as panels with the stars of these hit shows. Candice Patton, who plays Iris West-Allen on The Flash, sat for a panel with co-star Hartley Sawyer (Ralph Dibny/Elongated Man) and the two talked about the upcoming Season 5 of The Flash as well as answered some great questions from the audience.
When asked about her most meaningful fan encounter, Candice said: “I meet so many young women of color who feel so represented by my being in this role. Iris is traditionally Caucasian and they hired me, a black woman to play that role and that was kind of ground breaking at the time. It was an interesting choice to make Iris black, to make her the lead female of the show and to make her the love interest for the hero. That’s something we don’t often see, we’re seeing more of it everyday, but its important for young women of color to see themselves as leading ladies and as ingénues and beautiful, as the desired one, that’s smart and important to the team, someone that drives the story along. I meet a lot of women who feel important and empowered by my portraying Iris and that’s probably the most rewarding thing about this job.”
Candice expressed that when she first got the role, she had been going through so many rejections and when she finally booked Iris, she didn’t realize what kind of an impact it was going to have: “I became a voice for so much more than just an actress playing a role… I have an ability to speak on so many important issues. This role has been so much more than showing up for work and saying some lines, crying some tears and laughing with friends it’s really about being an activist for representation and equality, feminism, all of that. So I’m really proud when I walk away from this show feeling like I did something, even if it’s really small, I was a part of something that meant something to someone.”
Along with fellow DCTV star Caity Lotz, Candice founded SHEthority — an online community that provides a positive space for women to discuss and conquer the unique challenges they face daily. Candice spoke about the origins of the community and why she and Caity opted to start it: “Caity and I, we were on a hike in Vancouver, we were talking about situations like this, conventions, meeting young girls like yourself, you guys come up to our tables and you express what you’re going through, what these shows mean to you and we get maybe 30 seconds to have a conversation with you, which is nothing. And we wanted a way to give back to you guys and show you that we are more like you than not. I’m going through struggles every day is a struggle for me, in so many different ways, just being a woman in the world. And so we wanted to create a platform for you guys to be inspired and motivated just by a commonality and have a community where you can feel not so alone.”
Further showing what a great role model and activist Candice is to young women, when asked who her favorite superhero was growing up, she replied, “Batman for sure. For me it’s always Batman. I loved that he didn’t have super powers; he wasn’t struck by lightning or didn’t come from a different planet. He was just a guy, a very rich guy, but a guy who saw a need in his city and met that need and I think that speaks to something in all of us that we don’t have to have superpowers to do something great in our immediate communities.”
Not only does she portray Iris West-Allen, the leader of Team Flash and the heart and soul of the show, Candice Patton proves to be a leader and inspiration to young women.
Heroes & Villains Fan Fest is brought to you by Walker Stalker LLC; the fruit of The Walker Stalkers Podcast and its co-founder, James Frazier.
Walker Stalker/Heroes & Villains Fan Fest is not just a convention. It is a fan meet-up and an opportunity for each guest to come away feeling like they’ve had an amazing experience and have become part of a greater community.