Maya Mani interview: ‘Batwoman’ costume designer
A new Batwoman picked up the cape and cowl in Season 2 of The CW series “Batwoman.” The show shifted its narrative focus to Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie), an ex-convict who takes over the Batwoman mantle from Kate Kane (Ruby Rose) as a way to protect Gotham City and avenge her mother’s death.
With that change came a new opportunity for the show itself and especially costume designer Maya Mani. As the longtime Arrowverse fixture tells Gold Derby during the Meet the Experts: Costume Design panel, creating a new Batwoman costume with the show’s in star in mind was paramount to the process. Watch the exclusive video interview above.
“Javicia Leslie is obviously a very different actress, she brings a new perspective to the role,” Mani says. “A different physicality. She was a track runner, she was in the Army — in real life, not her character. So I wanted to showcase her physical strength by changing her costume and celebrating her physicality.”
Leslie is notable for being the first Black actress to play Batwoman in a live-action DC Comics property. Mani says that she felt the responsibility to reflect Leslie’s background in the wardrobe.
“The original wig had to go,” she says, adding, “I think I added just more curves to it. Javicia has curves, let’s celebrate them, let’s show them off. It’s part of her strength and it’s part of her being a woman of color and her physique, so that’s where I went with that.”
Mani has worked on a number of Arrowverse shows including “The Flash” and “Arrow.” She says working in the superhero genre is a balance of respecting the original designs from the comic book pages and using her own ideas.
“In the end, it’s really just my opinion. I do try and pay respects to the original but then I riff on it,” she says.