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Melissa Benoist takes to the sky as 'Supergirl'
Actress displays both strength and depth

By Bill Harris , Postmedia Network First posted: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 11:20 AM EDT | Updated: Wednesday, August 12, 2015 11:35 AM EDT
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. – The suit suits.
That is, the Supergirl suit suits Melissa Benoist.
“(Supergirl) is very modest – I was relieved, to be honest,” Benoist said. “I knew what was coming, I knew what I was going to have to do, in terms of fighting and flying.
“I didn't want ... I don't know how Wonder Woman does it. I don't know how she does it! (Her suit) just seems so impractical!”
There certainly was nothing impractical about casting Benoist as the lead character in Supergirl, which debuts Oct. 26 on CBS and Global. Benoist conveys the right combination of vulnerability and power as she portrays a young woman who is coming to grips with what she can do.
Supergirl is an action-adventure drama based on the DC Comics character Kara Zor-El, a.k.a. Superman's cousin. After a dozen years on earth keeping her powers a secret, she finally decides – with the help of some extreme circumstances – to embrace her superhuman abilities.
She has grown up on earth as Kara Danvers. In her mid-20s as the show begins, Kara is an awkward assistant at a media company.
“Her relatability is my favourite part about (Supergirl), for sure,” said the 26-year-old Benoist, whose highest-profile role previously was as Marley Rose on Glee.
“I approached (Supergirl) like I would any other role, in that, what is intrinsic to her, and what are her goals, and what motivates her? In this world, she is trying to break free from keeping her powers secret for so long and actually living up to her potential of what she was told she would do when her mother said, 'Oh, you're going to this planet where you'll be so strong.'
“But there also are some really personal parts of me in this role. I definitely relate a lot to Kara in the office, I think everyone can. Shyness, and being a wallflower, and not really knowing who you are quite yet, I can definitely relate to that.”
In some ways Supergirl is the story of emerging confidence. Not that it's an after-school special or anything. It's a modern superhero show, with all the effects and stunts and villains, along the lines of Arrow and The Flash, which also come from executive producer Greg Berlanti.
“It really is the truth, Stephen Amell was the very first person we saw for Arrow, Grant (Gustin) was the very first person we saw for The Flash, and Melissa was the very first person we saw for Kara,” said Andrew Kreisberg, also an executive producer.
“You know, as soon as we saw her, we just knew she was the one. She had the strength, the hope, the heart, the humour, and just that instant likability. And Peter Roth (of Warner Brothers Television) said after watching her that it's the closest feeling he's had since he saw Christopher Reeve, and it really is the truth.”
“He said that?” asked Benoist, both appreciative and humbled.
Playing Supergirl comes with outside pressure, of course. Or if pressure isn't the exact right word, then at least expectations, or maybe anticipation.
“Obviously there are some people who are so passionate (about Supergirl) that you want to hear what they have to say, because it's a character they love,” Benoist said. “But at the same time, this is the 2015 version of her, and I love to bring myself to any character I play. And I'm going to do just that.
“It's just a story made of hope. I think it is so important to see someone who is struggling to really be comfortable with who they are, and to realize how strong they are, and be surprised by what's inside of them.”
In all ways, Benoist is “suit-able” for the role of Supergirl. And she's right, the traditional Wonder Woman costume is totally impractical for modern superhero work. How does Wonder Woman stay in there?
Melissa Benoist laughed very hard at that.
“I love the Supergirl suit,” she reconfirmed. “In mine, it just feels strong. And secure. And solid.”
Twitter: @billharris_tv
bill.harris@sunmedia.ca
Melissa Benoist as Supergirl (Handout photo)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=YC_MzEGWG-c
www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKtqNsc65j8
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