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The Rise of the Super Heroine – Ciera Foster is Livewire

Image courtesy of Nick Foster

A lot of buzz has been generated about Valiant Entertainment‘s upcoming webseries, “Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe.” First announced at New York Comic Con last October, this brutal, first-of-its-kind, live-action digital series from Valiant Digital, a new division of the publishing company, and directed by Bat in The Sun, will consist of a six-episode series pitting MI-6’s master assassin, Ninjak, against a gauntlet of Valiant’s most formidable heroes for a bloodstained battle royale torn from the pages of the largest independent superhero universe in comics.

The character Livewire (aka Amanda McKee) will be the first person going head-to-head with Ninjak. One of Valiant Entertainment’s most powerful characters, the leader of Unity is set to make her debut in a featured role and actress Ciera Foster was tapped to portray this complex and intriguing character. We at PopCultHQ are extremely excited about this live-action series coming later in 2017 and we had the privilege of connecting with Ciera and discussing her starring role.

Ciera Foster is incredibly well-rounded: actress, model, semi-pro athlete, a Bachelors in Behavioral Sciences (triple minor), activist, trained in mixed martial arts, and most notably a comic book fan. The northern Californian has a lot on the horizon in 2017 and into 2018, as most projects are either in pre- or post-production. We were fortunate to connect with Ciera and collaborate on this spotlight interview to share more about the actress, her love for comics, and the exciting things in store as she takes on this pivotal character and brings the psionic teletechnopath to life.

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Here is the official teaser trailer for Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe,
Valiant Digital and Bat in the Sun’s new original series. Coming 2017.

 

POPCULTHQ’S SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW:
Ciera Foster

PopCultHQ:  What does Ciera Foster love the most about Livewire/Amanda McKee?
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Derek Theler (X-O Manowar) and Ciera Foster

Ciera Foster: Livewire encompasses the classic archetype of a superhero. A commitment to justice and   righteousness with an added edge. She’s a strong woman and, yes, a woman of color. But that only scratches the surface of what she truly is and means to me. I could tell you but I’m afraid that would take the whole interview. So I’ll just leave it at as a kid growing up loving comics, I thought I was born to play a superhero. Now I realize I was born to play Livewire. Everything about this character including the universe/company that created her I love. I suppose that is what I love most. From her beliefs, aesthetic to her story, it all just feels so damn right! – Not to mention her name is LIVEWIRE!!  – That’s a killer name and my pun game is strong!

PopCultHQ: What did it take for you to prepare for the role of Livewire? Did Valiant guide you as to where to best look to fully understand the character and her history? In addition to the comics preparation, what physically did (do) you need to prepare for what Livewire has in store for us?

John Hennigan (Eternal Warrior) and Ciera Foster

Ciera: The very first thing I did was was make a commitment to myself and the work to take on the role of a superhero (this superhero) and present the most authentic, impactful character as possible. Before I could do anything, I had to search out as much information as possible. I was cast as the final character in NinjakVS just a few weeks prior to my shooting date. Valiant is superb at supplying material to us as artists. However with my quick turn around, I did not have as much time and immediate information as my counterparts at least not initially. I searched the internet for everything there was to know about Livewire. I practically lived on Comixology. My brother Nick and I made a shared Livewire folder on our laptops that I would check and study daily leading up to my filming. I even visited the House of Secrets comic book store in Burbank, CA to talk to people anonymously and gain further perspective of the perception of both Valiant Comics and Livewire. I’m unsure if I realized, even then, the magnitude but I was eagerly aware that this character had the potential to be dynamic if not iconic. This was just by her story alone.  It was my job to make that a reality.

Physically I doubled my strength and conditioning regiments. As a former NCAA athlete, I train hard but as a superhero, in my mind that wasn’t enough. I was committed to doing an hour of cardio a day accompanied by forty-five minutes straight of weighted high-intensity interval training. This consisted of wearing a fifteen pound weighted vest and doing burpees, mountain climbers, push ups, jumping jacks, etc. to keep my strength up. Followed by three minutes straight of jump roping while still wearing the weight vest for endurance. I gained fifteen pounds of muscle in just under a month (granted, I do have a generous amount of muscle memory as a trained athlete). I was adamant about making this character someone who was formidable and yes a strong woman in every sense. Aaron Schoenke of Bat in the Sun (our director) told me Livewire was a strong leader ….I took that very literal lol.

Bloodshot (Jason David Frank) and Livewire

PopCultHQ: What do you feel is the most integral aspect of Livewire which you are working hard at showing fans, as well as newcomers?

Ciera: Livewire is a paradox. Though Livewire is arguably one of the most powerful characters in the Valiant Universe, which will play out in NinjakVS, her brash take-no-prisoners mentality stems from a deep-rooted sense of compassion. Formally being the right hand and essentially general to the all-powerful villain Toyo Harada, only to rise above wrongdoing to become the respected leader of Unity for MI6, says so much about how powerful Livewire is. It also shows the strength of her desire to do the right thing. I love that she is a true fearless leader. It is my  inclination that the fans old and new will appreciate the immense duality of this character.

PopCultHQ: What can you tell me about having your likeness as Livewire being used to grace the cover of Valiant comics? How does that feel seeing your image used in that manner (which I’m sure is a far cry from the photo shoots and promotional you’re used to)? Are there plans for more Ciera Foster as Livewire to be featured in future comics or other sources (magazines, poster art, website features, etc.)?

Ciera: It is humbling and flattering of course. It’s exciting because my ‘likeness” is Livewire’s likeness. I am the character. From the comic, we share many attributes. The fact that I’m so well-received visually alone as Livewire from Valiant fans makes the experience all the more special. I feel my being promoted as Livewire on comic book covers, the variant cover and the other mediums you mentioned, will allow fans especially children who come from under-represented groups to see themselves in the content. To feel they have a place in this wonderful universe and in comics. Having grown up loving superheroes, I believe there are a lot of positive lessons that can be learned from comics. It is my hope that my representation of Livewire will serve more people feeling represented and joining that heroic experience from a perspective of pride and sense of belonging . It’s not just about me on the cover. I represent them too. I am thrilled to continue to grow with Valiant Comics in every capacity. There is something incredibly special about Valiant .

PopCultHQ: For someone unfamiliar with the Livewire, or even for the Valiant fan who is eagerly awaiting seeing a live-action version, what would you say you bring to her character and what people can expect when we finally see her in action?
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Ciera Foster and Kevin Porter (Armstrong)

Ciera: I bring a new dimension to the character. Starring as Livewire in the first ever live-action series by Valiant, directed by Bat In The Sun, I literally have the privilege of bringing the character to life. As a semi-pro athlete with MMA training, a trained actress, activist and comic book fan, I feel my background enables me to enhance every aspect of this explosive character. Livewire deserves to be explored in-depth for fans to enjoy because she is so complex and so well-written. For the reasons noted, the variety that I naturally bring really serves this character. I believe people connect to me not just as Livewire but as the artist behind Livewire because I’m just as outside-of-the-box as she is. It’s likely that this makes my portrayal of such a character more believable. I also have a lot in common with Livewire besides the obvious physicality. I’ve always had a strong personality, that of a leader. I share the over-arching belief system of my character when it comes for fighting for a cause and justice. I’m sure that translates as well. Above all, I have an enthusiasm for playing this character that I’ve heard described as infectious. That enthusiasm is real and it seeps through me as Livewire. As far as the action, I’ll just say what is known of Livewire, and given what people know of me, it’s virtually a recipe for TNT. People wont be disappointed.

PopCultHQ: Let’s talk about The Rise of the Superheroine. With the increased (and well-deserved) attention as of late for strong, female leads (The CW’s Supergirl, the DCEU Wonder Woman film, the upcoming Captain Marvel film by, well, Marvel, etc.), what are your thoughts as to the current state of superheroines (whether comic books, film, or tv)? Will Livewire be a game-changer or up the bar? How important is that to you?
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Ciera: The time is now. We are shifting into a new paradigm of women in comics, film, and beyond. The definition of what it means to be a woman is expanding in regarding our roles and contribution to society. I am so blessed and grateful to be a part of this movement. YES, my portrayal of Livewire absolutely contributes to this shift. I always loved superheroes just as much as the next kid but the female stories were either secondary, non-complex, consistently inauthentic or hyper-sexualized. Although there are incredible female characters, the current rise of diversity and accelerating production of leading female characters will only provide more storylines for both male and female viewers to relate to. This time from all new perspectives! That is fantastic. Livewire on many levels reflects the current climate. And after Wonder Woman, which was brilliant, we cannot and will not go backwards. Livewire is certainly a game changer as every female-driven film should be. But we have to do it right from conception to the artists to post-production. We must continue to put out quality work especially when it comes to our super heroines. I believe Valiant will continue to raise the bar with Livewire just as they did when hiring Oscar-nominated screenwriter Eric Heisserer to write the Harbinger film. Eric wrote Amy Adams’ character tremendously in Arrival that it is why it was so impactful. Thus Livewire will continue to set the bar and then exceed it.

PopCultHQ: To go along with the previous question…With you playing a starring role as a female superhero and being African-American, what are your thoughts as to the current state of superheroines of color? What do you feel it’s needed to have more female comic book characters (in print or live-action) of ethnicity?
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Ciera: Art truly does imitate life even when delving into the world of superheroes/super heroines. People need visibility and reliability in the characters they take in daily. I have a B.A. in behavioral sciences with minors in psychology, ethnic studies and women/gender studies. I’m not a “know-it-all”  but I do know being a woman of color this is a truth because I’ve lived it. The comic book world is such a special community that I think everyone should have a place in it. In a world with a ton of information at your fingertips, why would we not want it to be all-inclusive? For children in particular to be able to aspire and relate to the moral concepts of a superhero? But in order to do that we have to again produce good work from A-Z . I’m happy to say there is a demand now more than ever for diverse superheroes. We need to continue to make good characters and stories. I’m thrilled to see that happening. My character alone has such a compelling background. I’m certain as Livewire’s story unfolds people will fall in love with her just as much as I did. Collectively, the studios cannot hype something up on color alone. That does everyone a disservice. It has to be a good, engaging story. We are well on our way. However across the board I’d like to see more Asian and Hispanic superheroes, superheroes of various religions and disabled superheroes too.  I believe Valiant is taking this ideal of diversity to an exciting new level beyond just my character as Livewire. That in itself makes me extremely proud to be a part of the Valiant family/legacy.
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Ninjak VS cast

PopCultHQ: With the release of the highly-touted and promoted SECRET WEAPONS by writer Eric Heisserer, as well as the upcoming debut of ‘Ninjak vs. the Valiant Universe,’ what are your plans as to their promotion? Will you be making appearances, signings, social media engagement, livestreaming, or tie-ins with Valiant?

Ciera: I certainly hope so!! lol – I am very interactive with Livewire and Valiant fans and will continue to be. Especially on both Instagram and Twitter. I created my Youtube vlog, Heroes and Humanity, specifically to connect with the Livewire fan base and comic book community. I’ve said it before…we’re all on this ride together. I’m very grateful for the positive, enthusiastic reception I received at New York Comic Con last October and the recognition I’ve garnished since as Livewire. I imagine that, that was nearly just a buildup of what’s to come. After our series is released, I look forward to making appearances  and connecting with as many fans as possible with Valiant on a grander scale.

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We want to thank Ciera for taking the time to be a part of this interview, even going so far as staying in contact while shooting on the set of NinjakVS. Stay with PopCultHQ as we continue to bring you all the news and latest regarding Ninjak vs the Valiant Universe. For more on Ciera Foster, be sure to follow her online (links can be found below).

CIERA FOSTER AKA VALIANT COMIC’S LIVEWIRE
FROM NINJAK VS. THE VALIANT UNIVERSE (Dir. by BatinTheSun)
REACTS TO WONDER WOMAN FILM


When you get the chance, do make time to watch the official announcement by Valiant and Bat In The Sun productions of the first release of Valiant Digital, Ninjak VS The Valiant Universe!



Stay informed and up-to-date on everything from Ciera Foster,
Bat in the Sun, and Valiant Entertainment!

ABOUT CIERA FOSTER:

Ciera Foster is an American actress from Northern California. Her early life was shaped by basketball, which she played for eleven years, leading her to become a State Tournament Finalist and earning her a scholarship to Southern California where she became an NCAA athlete at Cal State San Bernardino. Ciera graduated with three degrees. After exploring the film festival circuit abroad, Ciera returned to Los Angeles and enrolled in both The Young Actors Studio and The Academy of Theatrical Combat. Ciera also studied at Film Fighting LA. She is highly trained in hand-to-hand combat, theatrical combat, mixed martial arts, basic arms, and film combat weapons. Her specialties include the use of a cutlass, a broad sword, and a quarterstaff. Theatrically, Ciera has trained at academies and studios both abroad and in Los Angles. Ciera Foster is a multi year – intensive graduate of the Sanford Meisner Center .Ciera was honored with a Best Supporting Actress nomination at the 2014 168 International Film Festival for her role as Sydney in The Mantle of Granny Belle. Since, Ciera has played roles in several feature film projects in addition to television appearances. In 2016 Ciera Foster was cast to play female superhero lead as Valiant Comic’s LiveWire ( Amanda Mckee) in the highly anticipated live action series Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe, produced by Valiant Digital Entertainment and directed by Bat in The Sun. The series will release in 2017.

ABOUT BAT IN THE SUN:

Bat in the Sun is an independent self contained film and music production company. Their goal is to continue creating intelligent works in both film and music that entertain and inspire.
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ABOUT VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT:

 

Valiant Entertainment is a leading character-based entertainment company that owns the largest independent superhero universe in comics. With more than 81 million issues sold and a library of over 2,000 characters, including X-O Manowar, Bloodshot, Harbinger, Shadowman, Archer & Armstrong, and many more, Valiant is one of the most successful publishers in the history of the comic book medium. Today, the company’s characters continue to be forged in publishing, licensing, film, video games, and beyond. Valiant consistently produces some of the most critically acclaimed comics in the industry and has received numerous industry awards and accolades, including a Diamond Gem Award for Comic Book Publisher of the Year. In 2015, Valiant announced a multi-picture deal to bring Bloodshot and Harbinger to the big screen as feature films.
Jason Bennett
Jason Bennett is PopCultHQ's senior editor, a contributing writer, and comic book reviewer/reporter. He is a big lover of coffee, cats, cooking and comics (plus all things Green Lantern). He is a strong supporter of indie comics, creators, and publishers and Chris Hardwick is his spirit animal (we don't know how to respond to that). Follow Jason on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @TahoeJBennett

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