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 (NYCC 2016), 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 2018 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.
Here is the official teaser trailer for Ninjak Vs The Valiant Universe,
Valiant Digital and Bat in the Sun’s new original series. Coming 2018.
POPCULTHQ’S SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW:
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?
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.
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 .
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.
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: 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.
FROM NINJAK VS. THE VALIANT UNIVERSE (Dir. by BatinTheSun)
REACTS TO WONDER WOMAN FILM
Stay informed and up-to-date on everything from Ciera Foster,
Bat in the Sun, and Valiant Entertainment!
ABOUT CIERA FOSTER:
ABOUT VALIANT ENTERTAINMENT: