Nicole Maines Talks About Dreamer And Her Move From Screen To Comics

by Marsha Reilly
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In 2018, actress Nicole Maines stepped into the Arrowverse to play the now extremely beloved character Nia Nal, AKA Dreamer. Since her first appearance on Supergirl, the colorful heroine has stepped into other CW shows and now comic books.

She’s now set to join Jon Kent in Superman: Son of Kal-El, and she’s even become part of the world’s deadliest team, in Suicide Squad: Dream Team, which is co-written by Maines herself. She has truly embraced her love for her character and increased her reach and visibility.

Drawn by Eddy Barrows and Eber Ferreira, the new mini-series finds Nia learning more about her powers and working as part of the dysfunctional team. This title will also lead to this summer’s big DC event, Absolute Power

The best part is that this is just one of two major comic projects featuring Maines and Dreamer, with Bad Dreams: A Dreamer Story already available to buy. This is a YA graphic novel, written by Maines herself and drawn by Rye Hickman. Here we will get to finally see Dreamer’s comic book origin for the first time.

DC Comics got to sit down with Nicole to talk more about Dreamer, the adventures she’s bound for, how much this hero means to her, and the challenges of balancing her careers.

When did it first start becoming clear to you that Dreamer might have some real life outside of the TV shows?

Honestly, I don’t think it really clicked for me until I had my first meeting with DC in early 2020, and that was a meeting I wanted to have because I was afraid that she wasn’t really going to have this life outside of the show. She was an original creation for the CW Supergirl series and people loved her—she was really cool and had this awesome new power set. And I was worried about when this show ends, what’s going to happen to this character? She’s so groundbreaking.

So, it wasn’t really until after I had my first meeting with DC, and DC was like, “Yeah, we have this Young Adult line. Why don’t you write an origin story for her?” And I was like, “Oh, okay, sure” And then, “Oh, hey, we’re doing this thing called DC Pride, do you want to write a Dreamer story for that?” And I was like, “Oh, I’m honored that she’s included in this lineup to begin with.

Nia Nal is an important character, and it’s clear that you have a real attachment to her.

Some would say unhealthy. I would probably agree.

When did wanting to embody her on the screen start shifting to wanting to shape her life outside of it? I’ve never seen a DC actor shift so thoroughly into writing comics before.

Honestly, I wasn’t going into that first meeting with the intention of me writing it. It was more I was like, “Hey, I have this idea. I think someone should do this.” I didn’t write comic books. I didn’t know what the ins and outs of that looked like. I’m an actor… but I just love this character so much. I think she’s so important.

This came at a point in my life where I was going through a lot of big changes and I was really becoming who I am. And as I’m finding my way and settling into my new adult life, this character has sort been there alongside me the whole time. There was so much I wanted to do with her that when our showrunners called me and let me know that we weren’t going on to season seven, the first thing I said after I hung up was, “I’m not done. There’s more I want to do with this character. There’s more that I wanted. She’s so powerful. We didn’t even get to scratch the surface.

This is the thing, and I think it kind of became a joke on our show. We were always like, “Oh, let’s give Dreamer a new power because dreams can be whatever.” And I think we unwittingly created one of the most powerful characters in the DC Universe. It’s not every day that we get a character from TV moving into comics, and it’s not every day that character’s also a serious power player.

You’ve written a number of short stories and have co-written single issues with Tom Taylor, but Suicide Squad: Dream Team and Bad Dream: A Dreamer Story are your two biggest comic book projects by far. Has it been difficult to balance writing them with your acting work?

It’s hard. It’s been really hard to juggle, and I’m not an especially disciplined person. I’m not great at making schedules and sticking to them, as I think a lot of creative people would resonate with that. I’m kind of just all over the place, and that makes it hard to get things done on time or just balance things the way they need to be. So, it’s a learning process for sure.

In Suicide Squad: Dream Team, you’re writing a full team of characters outside of Dreamer. Was it fun getting into the heads of some other DC characters? You’ve chosen some pretty eclectic and fun people to be on your squad.

I really, really hope I do them all justice. They’re all really cool characters, and the scariest thing is every character is somebody’s favorite character. I didn’t want a Black Alice fan, especially after this long hiatus—we had a little bit of her in Lazarus Planet, but before that, it was the Secret Six. I don’t want anyone to come to Dream Team, read it, and be like, “I’m so excited, we’re getting more Black Alice,” and then say, “She really did nothing with her.”

It’s hard because it is four issues, twenty pages, and it’s mostly about Dreamer and Amanda Waller. I didn’t want it to be a situation where it felt like the rest of the squad became supporting characters. I wanted to give everybody something to do.

Bad Dream is part of our YA line, and it’s telling the story of Nia’s origin for the first time. What can we expect it to teach us about who she is?

I think it shows exactly the role that she was content to play in her own life. She was completely resigned to being a supporting character. Her sister was the main character. Her sister was the one who was going to get these powers. Her sister was the one that was going to be a superhero. All Nia was ever going to be, at best, was the guy in the chair. And then all of that gets turned upside down. Next thing she knows, she’s thrust into this position that she did not ask for, she did not want, she did not expect, and no one expected her to do it.

So, especially with Suicide Squad: Dream Team coming out, I hope people learn why she does what she does. Why is she so hell-bent on trying to do the right thing, on trying to protect people, on trying to keep this alien colony from getting exposed? Why is she so rubbed the wrong way by Amanda? What is her relationship with her family like? How does that play into all of this?

You brought our first live-action trans superhero to the screen. Now, through your efforts as a writer, Dreamer’s at the heart of some of the biggest events within DC’s comic book universe. There’s also the fact that trans comic writers are still a bit of a rarity. You’re breaking new ground in every way in the realm of comics and superheroes. What’s been the single most rewarding aspect of that for you?

I think it might be the crossover from the show into the comics. I didn’t know if it was going to be doable. It wasn’t something that I knew people would be excited about. I didn’t know if anyone would care. The fact that it has blossomed into what we’re doing now is really, really rewarding and it’s one of the things that I am the most proud of. Being able to see this character in so many different forms of media—she was a Fortnite skin! Oh my god, that was crazy.

Just being able to see her in all of these places. I knew it was possible, but I didn’t think it was likely. To see the way that people have rallied behind her and fought for her and advocated for her—and for me, as well—I’m just very, very grateful.

To read our full interview of Suicide Squad: Dream Team #1, click here. The first issue was released on March 12th, 2004, and issue #2 will hit shelves on April 9th. Bad Dream; A Dreamer Story is available to buy right now..

Source: DC Comics

Images and Press Release Courtesy of DC Entertainment

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