As an activist, model, industry leader and consultant, Bethann Hardison was not in search of another pursuit, but the CW’s “Black Lightning” has recruited her for its fourth season.
The series focuses on a crusading school principal who gets back into action as the superhero that he once was. The show was inspired by the Black Lightning character developed by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden, featured in DC Comics.
Explaining that she is “a trained actor,” but one who doesn’t act — that is until now — Hardison said she casually mentioned to the show’s creator, Salim Akil, a long time ago, “that if he ever sees anything that might be right for her, she would like to work with him.“ Hardison recalled, “He said, ‘Of course.’ But nothing ever happened. And then a couple of days ago, he wrote me a text, and said, ‘Listen. I have a role for you,’” asking whom the casting team should reach out to about the prospect.
Hardsion will play a marriage counselor who helps the show’s two leads, “who obviously are going through some troubled moments,” she said.
“I have about six episodes plus. It’s amazing. I’m nervous as hell,” she added, laughing.
En route to Atlanta on Monday, Hardison said she was more nervous than excited. As the founder of The Designers Hub and Gucci’s executive adviser of global equity and culture engagement, she keeps a full agenda. “I was so busy trying to get out of it that it didn’t make any sense, and yet I couldn’t get out of it. I kept thinking, ‘Well, if the spirits really want me to do this, I guess I can do it.’
“Somebody said to me the other day, ‘Boy, what a career.’ I don’t have a career. I’ve never had a career. I am someone who is capable of doing different things. A career is something like you’re a doctor, you’re an actor, you’re a dancer, you’re an economist, you’re a scientist,” she said. “I am Bethann, who has basically been trained by the Garment District. I know how to file and answer the phone. I know how to do a lot of things and I am decently educated. But I think it’s just energies.”
Whereas as a career involves advancement, Hardison said she sees this is more a matter of “the relevancy is there as a human.” The Designers Hub founder said she recently wondered whether this was happening because of the good she has always done without ever being paid, or anything in return other than the results of the efforts. She said, “Is that the reason why this happens or is it because of all the things you’ve done and people just recognize it?”
Hardison appeared in a short film by Christine Turner titled “Hold On” that was part of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. “It was really wonderful. But I didn’t have any lines because I played a grandmother with dementia,” she said.
With her first shoot for the CW series set for Tuesday, Hardison will be traveling back and forth between Georgia and New York. She also is hoping to one day realize something that she has always wanted to do — a one-woman show.