Now that the dust has finally settled on the series finale of Supergirl, I find myself able to more adequately articulate my words in between the sobs. Let’s face it… together– one of The CW’s most beloved shows has come to a bittersweet close as Kara Danvers (Melissa Benoist) embraced all parts of herself, revealing to the world that she is indeed Supergirl. I mean, did the glasses really fool anyone anyways?
Over the years, viewers have come to know and cherish so many characters on the hit CW series who have not only aided Supergirl in her heroic expeditions, but were integral parts in saving the world many, many times. You know, the characters that have inspired us, moved us, and have motivated us to do better, and be better. This is especially the case with Nia Nal aka Dreamer. For the last three years, Nicole Maines has portrayed one of the most charismatic, dynamic, down to earth superheroes in the Arrowverse– she has not only given the transgender community a superhero to look up to but has been incredibly eye-opening to watch for those of us LGBTQ+ allies from all walks of life. And let’s just say that Nicole isn’t done with Dreamer… not by a long shot.
As we dive into special moments from Nicole’s time as Nia/Dreamer, and reflect on the final hoorah for Supergirl’s trusty squad, I got to chat with her about her time on the series, what’s next for this iconic character, and how she navigated through the madness landing such a huge role as her first big gig.
Let’s get dreaming…
MCKENZIE MORRELL: How are you feeling as the dust settles on the series finale of Supergirl? I’m sure you’ve had some time to process the end when filming concluded, but now that it’s out in the universe how does it feel?
NICOLE MAINES: You know, it’s a bittersweet thing because it’s three, four years of my life that I have loved. And I loved everyone on that side. I had so much fun at the same time. I’m excited to take the next step and see what’s next. For Dreamer, I know that Supergirl was at the end of that story and I’m still very much involved with everything that’s happening with Dreamer. The end of the show for me was really more of the beginning for this character specifically. I was more excited than anything.
MM: Right. I feel like with the series finale a lot of the fans watching interpreted it as a hopeful beginning. Sure, they tied up some loose ends but it seemed like it was setting up everyone’s future beyond the finale. Whatever that may be.
NM: For sure. That’s the great thing about superheroes and comic books as these characters don’t just exist in one iteration or in one form. Regardless of what kind of program or project these characters are all gonna show up again.
MM: Ohh. Yeah, of course. Have you seen any of the fans’ reactions online? Hopefully everybody is overall positive. But I know that they wished that it would go on forever, but all good things have to come to an end.
NM: Yeah, of course. It’s hard because especially when you come to love these characters and you come to form what really feels like personal attachments to each of them, when they go away, it’s painful and it’s shocking. I think some of the reactions people have wanted, like spinoffs with Nia and Brainy and Alex and Kelly and I’m like that’s the same show though. Cool. But we’re recognizing that that is not what a spinoff is.
MM: That is basically a seventh season.
NM: Exactly. What y’all are asking for is another season.
MM: Oh, poor things. You obviously made an impact and you made history with your character being the first transgender superhero on TV. There’s no doubt about it that this character has been such a beacon of hope for so many people watching this show. What has been your biggest takeaway from playing Nia and Dreamer? Have those characters taught you anything you didn’t expect to learn while playing these roles?
NM: Oh, geez. Well, I mean, Nia and Dreamer were so much fun. I have developed my own personal attachment to these characters and I love them so much. I think the biggest thing I’m learning on Supergirl is not necessarily specifically from Nia or from Dreamer, but just learning how to trust myself more. It’s scary having one of your first projects be something this major. It’s nerve wracking, trying to find your sea legs in front of a giant audience. It’s definitely a process that’s still happening, but I’m learning to trust myself more and trust that I deserve to be here. Nia and Dreamer are the perfect characters to help me do that because as I was trying to find my legs as an actor, you know, Dreamer’s trying to find her legs as a superhero. I felt like a lot of things that were happening in my personal life, really paralleled what would happen with Nia and Dreamer.
MM: The show really did a great job of weaving our reality into the superhero world and you were dealing with very real issues in this fictional world. Is it true that you consulted on many, if not all aspects of Nia’s character development regarding the obstacles she would face?
NM: Yeah, especially where Nia’s transness was concerned. They were very good about coming to me, and seeking my opinion and actually listening to what I have to say. We were very lucky on our show because we were all able to pitch things if we wanted, regardless of whether or not those actually happened. The door was always open for us to come in and be like, hey, here’s my idea. For Nia, especially when we were doing those episodes, that focused on her transness, they would ask me about her and her sister making up and Nia’s relationship with her and ask what do you think, does Nia forgive her? Where do they go from here? What does this look like to you? I told them no, it’s very important that Nia does not absolve her from what she did and form that kind of, you know, uneasiness and rocky relationship because when something like that happens with two characters, it’s not cut and dry. There are so many things in life that we would love a tidy ending for, but I think that’s one of those real world things that it’s not so cut and dry. It’s not so black and white. It is messy and uncertain. And there’s not really a right answer because of course in your head, you’re like, what Maeve said was unforgivable to Nia. She never forgave her, but at the same time, it’s different. When that’s your sister. It’s easy when it’s someone who is kind of inconsequential, like some idiot on the internet, but coming from your sister, you’re like this hurts so much more. And it is so much harder for me to respect myself. And understand what I deserve.
MM: Do you ever feel that way, having to almost, you know, obviously I’m not sure what your experience was, growing up, but having to relive those types of moments or basically have to replicate them on screen versus what you’ve gone through in your real life.
NM: You know, I’m fortunately at a point with my life and my past that I’m able to start to revisit those kinds of things. For me, as Nia’s experiences go, they never really directly reflected mine as a trans woman, which I think is important because you know, our experiences aren’t all the same. Of course.
MM: Yes, of course.
NM: So for me, when I would do those scenes, it was like I knew we were just pretending when Hannah [James] and I were doing the big, you’re not even a real woman scene. I remember her being so apologetic and I kept telling her that I was fine. I’m sure it’s hard to have to say that to another person, I think it’s honestly harder to be the bad guy in that situation. This is the same stuff people have been saying to me since I was in fifth grade. It’s water off a duck’s back. In regards to acting, I can do those scenes because I know how it feels and I can sort of embody that and share that. But personally, I’m fine with it.
MM: It’s good that it hasn’t taken too much of a toll on you playing this role. I’m sure it’s been helpful to those who are watching the show who are in a similar situation with family or friends and to see the dynamics unfold. Not necessarily forgiving anybody, but just being able to be okay with moving forward and trying to mend these relationships that are not always tidy and perfect. And then obviously things kind of come full circle in the series. In one of the final shots of the show, we see the Dreamer center for LGBTQ outreach. Did you have any say in that coming to fruition, where did that idea spark from?
NM: No, that was all the writers. That was a surprise to me. I had no idea that was going to happen.
MM: Wow. That’s amazing though. That just adds to the journey, she’s going to continue to change lives and help people that need it.
NM: Exactly, exactly. One of the major aspects of Nia’s character is just that she’s a caring, empathetic person, and that one of her ruling character traits is empathy. That’s why I think she was able to move forward with Maeve because she understands. That her sister feels bad but it’s important for Nia to stand up for herself because it’s something we see with Nia throughout the series. Her whole run on the show is her willingness to put other people first and her willingness to protect and nurture and take care of others, even if it comes at a detriment to herself.
MM: She’s definitely always putting everyone before herself, just for that sake. If you could have given Dreamer any upgrade throughout the series, what would it have been?
NM: I don’t know if it’s an upgrade, this is the power we already know she has, but her anticipatory dreams, I think I would have liked to just see more of it.
MM: That would have been great. In the extended cut of the series finale, Nia caught the bouquet and Brainy definitely confirmed future nuptials between the two. What would a wedding between Brainy and Nia look like? Would there be a theme? Would it be low key? How would you envision it?
NM: I don’t know, oh gosh. I’ve never really pictured the wedding between Brainy and Nia. For me, I was always picturing the engagement. If he doesn’t propose to her with a Legion ring, I don’t know what I’m going to do with myself.
MM: Ha! I feel like the engagement would be something more spectacular and then the actual wedding would be lowkey.
NM: Yeah, I think the wedding itself would be something small and family-oriented, really cozy and then there’s going to be something crazy happening but then in the end it ends up being perfect and cute because it’s Brainy and Nia.
MM: It all works out in the end. Hopefully we get to see more of these characters. I’m hoping for that because you two together on screen has been one of the most enjoyable things to watch.
NM: Oh, thank you so much. We had so much fun.
MM: Now, I always hear stories of actors kind of keeping, or perhaps taking items from their projects. Were you able to keep anything from Nia or Dreamer’s wardrobe? I feel like I’d be sitting in my office in Dreamer’s superhero suit typing away if I were you.
NM: Yeah, I mean, we joke a lot that we steal things, but everything we had was given to us with permission. They let me keep Dreamer’s gloves.
MM: That’s awesome. And let’s say that you got trapped in the Phantom Zone. What one item would you bring along with you?
NM: Phantom Zone projector!
MM: Right? There you go. Right to the solution.
NM: Let’s go. No, we’re not doing any of this.
MM: That’s a hard pass. Excluding the Arrowverse– what’s another show past or present you could see Nia or Dreamer on.
NM: Titans, I think she would fit right in.
MM: That would be a good one!
NM: I could see Doom Patrol. I’d love to do something like that. Here’s the thing with Dreamer. She works anywhere because there’s no superhero teams, squad, crime fighting band of misfits– that does not need to see the future.
MM: Yeah, she could just be plugged in anywhere. Realistically we should make that happen.
NM: Ohh, surely, this is what I keep telling people. Can Dreamer please pull up to your city and be like, ‘hey guys, it’s me. I had a dream. Something’s coming. I’m rooting for you all.’
MM: Roll up to a different universe and just tell them it’s okay and you’re here to help them!
NM: Oh, totally. I would love for her to pop up!
MM: That would be super fun. In the first issue of DC Pride comic, you introduced Dreamer’s story to the DCU, what was that experience like. Writing this new hero into this comic book world?
NM: It was so much fun and DC was so great and they gave free rein to do whatever I wanted. I kept expecting them to shoot me down, but they just kept saying yes to my crazy ideas.
MM: That’s definitely a first!
NM: I know! I was like, I’m thinking maybe a warehouse full of shadow assassins. And they’re like, love it. Do it. I had so much fun, also hearing people’s responses to it. Something I did not expect though, that people still thought that it’s set in the CW world.
MM: Yeah, that was bound to happen.
NM: And I didn’t know. That’s a mistake on my part because people think that it’s set in National City and not Midvale, which was a discrepancy, but between the show and the comic. For all intents and purposes, it is comic book canon. It’s not CW. I would just like to be clear about all of that.
MM: Yes, record set straight right here. In addition to acting and being a transgender rights advocate, you’re also a writer. What piqued your interest to get into that world?
NM: I started writing more when I started writing the Dreamer comics.
MM: Oh, nice. So fairly recently.
NM: Fairly recently, very new, very new. Still a baby writer. It all started with Dreamer.
MM: Throughout your time on Supergirl, which cast-mate has given you the best advice, whether regarding working on the show or in just your life in general.
NM: I mean all of them, they’re all stages in my life that I adore. Best advice when I was first on the show and I was really struggling and I was just kind of getting really overwhelmed with being the new kid on the show with literal legends and literally I’m like, I’m with, you know, legendary actor David Harewood, Chyler Leigh of Grey’s Anatomy. Oh, Broadway star, Melissa Benoist. Oh, I just watched Katie [McGrath] get dumped into a dinosaur tank on the silver screen. I’m like, oh, all of these people are legends and I’m here. I’m an idiot from Maine. I was talking to David Ajala, who plays Manchester Black. I told him that I was really struggling with a script. I didn’t know how Nia would say these lines and I was trying to figure out how to characterize her. And he goes, whatever way you say it is how Nia would say it. My mind was blown. It seems very obvious, but for me, it took someone else saying it.
MM: Yeah. When you’re originating a role or you’re figuring things out, you really have that leeway to make that character what you want it to be.
NM: It’s the same thing when you’re watching yourself. I can’t, I have to stop. Because you pick yourself apart because you’re so much closer to it than anybody else watching it is going to be, so you are completely incapable of being objective because you’re going to know if that wasn’t what you were trying to do during that take.
MM: It’s true that you’re always your worst critic, that’s usually how it goes in any type of forum. We like to shake things up here at Fandomize. Since the series is over, I’m going to shake it up a little bit. If Nia wasn’t with Brainy, which character in the Arrowverse would she be drawn to?
NM: I don’t know about a romantic pairing, but I would’ve loved to see a super blue spiral team up between like Dreamer and Vibe.
NM: I think they would look so good together.
MM: That could happen.
NM: That would have been really cool.
MM: Now let’s play a quick game. I’m going to have you name two truths and a lie, and then the readers are going to have to decide which is which.
NM: Okay. Oh, my gosh. Okay.
MM: Throwing you off your game today.
NM: Okay. These are pretty good. Okay. Dreamer was set to have her own little station in the tower that was going to be her dream nook. She was going to have her own cool space to dream and see things. She was going to learn how to fly with her powers. And there was a Brainy and Nia spinoff pitched.
MM: Hmm. I’m even stumped at which one is the truth and which one’s the lie.
NM: Should we reveal?
MM: Nope! They’re all upsetting because they’re all cool! Especially that last one, people will lose their minds, but we’re just going to leave them here. We’re just going to move on to something else. I like to add my signature question into all of my interviews. Are you ready for this one?
MM: If you were to construct a donut based on your character’s personality, what kind of donut would it be and what toppings would be on it?
NM: Oh, nice. Okay. So right off the bat, blue, it’s gotta be blue, blue icing, sprinkles. Dreamer’s brand is a blueberry donut. Can’t go wrong.
MM: Sounds delightful. I actually have a blueberry donut in my kitchen right now that I got this morning for breakfast. I feel like it’s the right vibe for the day. Now, what can we do to help the cause and bring awareness to transgender children and youth?
NM: Something easy that I tell people they can do is to share things on social media. It takes two seconds. Right? It’s easy. When you see something online, just share it, hit the retweet button. One of the harder things I’ve noticed is trying to get people to spread the word, trying to get people involved, because I think so many people are of the mindset I’m removed from this. It’s not my fight. I don’t know anybody who’s trans, that’s not what I post. That’s not authentic to my account or my blog or my page or whatever. It really doesn’t matter. It takes two seconds to share something. That’s what caring about people is like.
MM: That’s great to put out there. And so simple. As we come to the close, is there anything else that you would like to add for the fans? We know there are big things coming up that you can’t quite talk about yet, but let us know what to look out for in 2022.
NM: I would just let people know to keep an eye on social media. If you want to see more of Dreamer, let people know, talk about it, tweet about it. I’d love to see your fan art and your head canons. I love to see people talking about Dreamer. And if you want to see more of her make some noise. She’s going places, and if people’s love of this character is keeping her going than I welcome it.
— Nicole Maines (@NicoleAMaines) November 10, 2021
MM: It’s that energy of making waves in a positive way. Hopefully someone hears the masses rooting for ya! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. It’s been an honor getting to know Dreamer throughout the years. I’m really excited to see what’s in store for you next. We’re definitely looking forward to that.
NM: Oh, thank you very much.
MM: Of course, I’m going to go eat my blueberry donut and I will think of Dreamer! See you on social media.
Interview edited for length and clarity.