It’s no exaggeration to say that Stephanie Beatriz is one of the busiest entertainers in the business right now. The past months alone not only saw the final season of the acclaimed comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine where she plays detective Rosa Diaz but also voice (and sing) the lead role of Mirabel Madrigal in the Disney animated Encanto. And somewhere in between all that she found the time appear on the London stage in the play 2:22 A Ghost Story and give birth to a baby! The new year is already starting off on a high note as Beatriz makes her DC Comics debut voicing Batwoman in the new Catwoman: Hunted animated film.
By sheer coincidence, it was nearly two years ago when a fan casting campaign began on social media for Stephanie Beatriz to portray the character in live-action. Of course, by that point Beatriz had already been cast and recorded her lines for Catwoman: Hunted. The Beat had the chance to chat with Beatriz about the fan campaign and her performance as Kate Kane/Batwoman. We also discuss the strides of LGBTQ+ representation not only in the film but in media in general.
Taimur Dar: Long before you were officially announced in the cast, there was a social media campaign for you to play Batwoman in live-action. I’m guessing this was after you recorded lines for Catwoman: Hunted. How hard was it keeping tightlipped about this project in the midst of this fan campaign?
Stephanie Beatriz: [Laughs]. That was fun! It’s always fun to have a secret project that you’re working on. It’s nice to know that people want you to play a character and then it’s extra nice to know that they’ll be able to see you play a version of that character.
*reads everything about Batwoman
— Stephanie Beatriz (@iamstephbeatz) May 20, 2020
Dar: This version of Batwoman was introduced in the comics more than 15 years ago, around the time I got back into comics. I remember there was a lot of attention and even a write-up in the New York Times. Prior to this project, how familiar were you with Batwoman/Kate Kane?
Beatriz: I was familiar peripherally. I knew a bit about the character. I haven’t been deep, deep into Batman since Batman: The Animated Series when I was a kid. That was one of my favorite series. It sort of led the way to me wanting to be an actor. I remember Mark Hamill being on it and thinking, “Wow! Look what you can do! You can do so many different kinds of things if you’re an actor.”
Dar: For people who aren’t comic book fans, there will likely be those who know nothing about Batwoman’s backstory like her twin sister, her military background, or even the fact that she’s Bruce Wayne’s cousin. Obviously, it’s not essential for the plot in Catwoman: Hunted but for you as an actor was having that background and subtext helpful in shaping your performance?
Beatriz: Any amount is helpful. If it’s helpful to an actor to do tons and tons of research and they feel it informs what they are doing then that’s what they should do. If it’s matching research with your own imagination then that’s what you have to do. In Catwoman: Hunted, the story really focuses on Catwoman and being the center of this iteration of that character and her relationship with Batwoman. To me a lot of what’s necessary in the performance is actually already in that script. It’s already come from the research that someone else has done when they’ve been writing a script that you are going to perform.
Dar: Did working on this project lead you to learn more and do a deep dive into the comics?
Beatriz: There’s no way to answer that question without someone being mad! [Laughs]. I will delicately say that I feel like I hope I did the character justice.
Dar: Without a doubt, the bathtub scene in the film stood out to me for many reasons particularly a brief but distinct change in Batwoman voice when Catwoman catches her off guard. It seemed to me like this was a moment of vulnerability where we get to hear Kate’s “real” voice outside of costume, so I was wondering what informed your performance in that scene?
Beatriz: You nailed it like you said, vulnerability. [Batwoman is] in a position of vulnerability or in a moment of self-discovery or a moment of privacy. That’s a very private moment that you’re watching in this film. It feels sexy and kind of tantalizingly dangerous. All of that stuff informs the performance. It’s the world in which Kate is in, in that moment, and her honest reaction is to have that voice come out. Andre Braugher said this when I worked on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, “Just follow the truth. Just follow the honesty and the performance will come.”
Dar: While we’re on the subject of voices, I’m sure there will be some few people who won’t recognize that it’s you as Batwoman. In fact, when I interviewed Elizabeth Gillies, the voice of Catwoman, she admitted that when she was watching the film with her husband that they both couldn’t tell that you were voicing the character.
Beatriz: That’s great!
Dar: How did you find your Batwoman voice?
Beatriz: That’s also a really great question. Part of what I love about doing voiceover work is that you become these totally different people. You can use all the instruments in your toolbox to create different characters. And you can play with the sound of your voice. I’m going to go back to the Mark Hamill example because I don’t think that a lot of people knew that he was the Joker. And he was doing something so wild, fun, fearless, and dangerous sounding. And yet that’s also sweet, goofy Luke [Skywalker]! That’s the kind of actor that I want to be. I want to be the kind of actor who disappears into these roles where you almost don’t think of the actor, you think of the role. Bryan Cranston is another great example where he did multiple seasons of Malcolm in the Middle and he was this goofy, doofy dad. And then he turns around and does Breaking Bad. He’s this scary badass mad scientist drug lord! That runs the gamut of what’s possible for an actor. And that’s the kind of stuff that I want to do.
Dar: The film depicts Catwoman’s bisexual orientation, something that was established a few years ago in the comics. Being openly bisexual yourself and an advocate for LGBTQ+ representation, how do you feel media has progressed in that regard and the way it’s presented in Catwoman: Hunted?
Beatriz: I think we’ve progressed a lot generally, globally, and as a society. And yet we have a long way to go. There are places in the world where this film might not be accepted or celebrated in the same way that it might be in other places. That’s unfortunate. I think we owe it ourselves and people who are watching and consuming art to continue producing art that is true and honest. That includes people who are LGBTQIA. They are part of the world. They exist. They have stories. Their stories are awesome. They can be heroes too. They can be superheroes. They can be badasses. It’s exciting to be alive at a time when I, the person that I am [and] all of the parts of me, can be a part of this film portraying these characters and all of the parts of them.
Beatriz: Yes! That was a very cool moment! I felt that was really cool and exciting to see how many people were excited about that too!
Catwoman: Hunted arrives on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack, Blu-ray and Digital on February 8, 2022.