We recently had the pleasure of chatting with Arrow’s Juliana Harkavy, a.k.a Dinah Drake, a.k.a the Black Canary. We discussed quite a bit, from Willa Holland’s send off as Thea Queen to which Marvel character she would like to play. We also discussed her thoughts on #MeToo and how it affected her on Arrow. We also chatted about how she keeps Dinah Drake in her top form to take on the criminal underworld in Star City. Interestingly enough, that conversation even got us discussing the iconic Salmon Ladder in the Arrow Cave. But maybe my favorite part of the entire interview is when Juliana talks about how the fans see her as a hero. She recounts this beautiful tale of a young girl named Cassandra. You might just cry. I know I was on the verge.
But let’s get to it. You can listen to our conversation with Juliana above or read below!
Willa Holland’s Departure
Bounding Into Comics (BIC): You guys had a pretty big episode recently where Willa Holland’s Thea left the show. What was it like to say goodbye to her and see one of the core members of the cast from the original season depart?
Juliana Harkavy: It was very emotional. I was able to watch the episode live last night and I thought Willa’s performance was just beautiful. She was one of my favorite characters on the show and I think she’s so immensely talented. I was actually just talking about it over breakfast with my husband. I was like, ‘Wow!’ she’s on the show for such a long time, I think she did such a good job, and it was just a beautiful send-off, you know, on set it was emotional and it was really cool because a lot of old people reunited, a lot of old friends, and I think it’s just a really, really lovely tribute, the episode itself, and I think Willa’s awesome.
BIC: Yea. I mean it was pretty cool. I actually really liked how it was kind of setting her up for her own adventures which was unique for sending a character away, but she’s like actually going off on another adventure.
Juliana: Yeah. Totally, I like that too. You know she’s still alive and well and now she has this whole new sense of purpose and they can maybe do a spin-off.
Dinah Drake’s Future
BIC: What’s in store for Dinah Drake as we’re coming to the close of Season Six here? What can we expect to see from her?
Juliana: I think she’s really gone through an emotional and spiritual roller coaster this season. Because of the great loss that she went through and going through another tragedy again, she kind of lost herself to find herself. So she’s just going to be coming into I think a new phase, a new approach to her position as the Black Canary and her position as Dinah, as herself.
I think at the moment where she understood that vengeance is not necessarily the best way to get justice and that you know violence isn’t the best way to seek justice or to be a hero. It’s just going to be a new kind of Dinah. She’s going to be a little more zen maybe in her approach.
BIC: That sounds pretty pretty cool. You’re kind of at odds with the Green Arrow right now. Will we see a reconciliation or you guys get back together, or…?
Juliana: I think Dinah is always going to challenge the head of the team whoever it is, if it’s not her. That’s kind of in her character. I think that Dinah and Oliver are actually great together. I do think that they fight well together. They work well together. From the moment that he found her, kind of pulled her out of, again, this sort of downward thing that, I don’t want to say downward. Like dark place that she fell into. He pulled her out of it, so I think she really cares for him and I do hope that on some level they get to work together and be a team together again. But you know it’s going to be a process. Because again she’s strong-headed.
BIC: Right. I really actually like that about the portrayal of the character, that she is so strong. And we saw that from Season Five when you were first introduced. That’s one of my favorite parts of the character, like really stood out. When you are getting ready to go on set – I’m a big hockey fan so as a metaphor hockey goalies have these idiosyncrasies and patterns that they do before the big game. They’re just known for being weird or whatever from the rest of the team. Is there any kind of rituals that you do before you get ready to go on set?
Juliana: I like that question. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that. Yeah definitely. Yes. I don’t think I’ve ever really thought about what it is. Well, what do I do? Well, I always do breathing like all those dudes. Like a few deep breaths at least try to take one deep breath before every scene and just center myself. I think about a lot of the things that Dinah stands for, too. I try to take a moment to think about the people. From the people in Star City in the fantasy world to the people who actually watch the show. Little kids that look up to her and stuff and just I take a moment and come into her. Then I start the scene. But I always try to do it just within the first five seconds before they call “Action.”
BIC: Oh. Okay. Wow! That’s a lot going through your head in the first five seconds.
Juliana: Yea. Yea. For sure. You don’t have a lot of time, sometimes. You are like, ‘Oh yea! That was funny. You remember last night.’ And they’re like ‘Action!’ We try to not do that and take a moment. I’d say that’s my ritual, but it’s not something I’ve ever really thought through before. I’d say it’s important to have that.
BIC: There’s obviously a lot of action scenes on Arrow and you’re involved in quite a bit of them. Is there anything specific that you do as far as like an exercise regimen to make sure Dinah Drake’s her best to fight crime?
Juliana: Yea. One of the things that has been the most beneficial for me in real life is that I’ve been able to really become stronger physically, and so I try to get to the gym at least – while I’m working it’s hard sometimes. Long days. I try to get to the gym at least three days a week now. Beginning of the season I was going five to six days which was awesome, but I just kind of do basic weight training exercises mostly. That’s what I’m really into right now. And basic bodyweight stuff like push-ups and sit-ups and pull-ups. I feel like if I can eat healthily and get to sleep and be able to do just those things, well I’m in a good place to feel like Dinah. And feel at my best.
BIC: Stephen Amell has done American Ninja Warrior. Any plans for you to be on there?
Juliana: Yea! I’m going to be on next season.
BIC: That’s awesome!
BIC: Was that a joke?
Juliana: Yes, I’m joking! No I think I can do four pull-ups and then I pretty much need an ambulance.
BIC: So you’re not going to take on that Salmon Ladder that’s in Arrow Cave?
Juliana: No, actually we are working on that. I worked with the stunt team this season to get up there and I kind of got one. Once you can get one, what I’ve been told – Stephen the other day was trying to show me how to do it – and I was told that once you kind of get one and you have that feeling then you know kind of easier to make your way up. That is the very top of my priority list as
far as my exercise regime and my strength training and stuff. I’m like, ‘I want to tackle that Salmon Ladder.’
BIC: I like how it’s just kind of become an iconic thing in the show, and last season there’s the whole flashback scenes with Felicity and Oliver with the Salmon Ladder. I actually like how it all revolved around that so that was pretty cool.
Juliana: Yeah, I love that too. It’s just sort of there. It has its own presence. It’s its own character on the show. I definitely want to be able to do that at some point. It’s basically a pull-up , but it’s just an energized pull-up.
Comic Book Research
BIC: Right. You have to carry your own momentum and swing your body. I’m going to kind of change directions here a little bit. Before you took on the role of Dinah Drake and Black Canary, were you pretty familiar with the character? Or was she kind of new to you?
Juliana: It was very new to me. I didn’t even know I was auditioning for the Black Canary when I auditioned for her. It was all very new and I had to do a lot of research and reading and watching, but it was humbling to say the least because you feel like you’re really coming into something huge and you wanted to it justice. No, I mean in a way it was nice because I had no preconceived notions about who she was, I was able to just create her in that moment.
BIC: What was some of the research that you did? You said you did a lot of reading. Was there any specific stories that you read from, like the comics, or what did they recommend that you read to get to know her a little bit better?
Juliana: The only comic I read is one of Gail Simone’s “Birds of Prey” comics. I read through that and I just went online and I did a lot of digging. I just saw every version of the Black Canary that I could find. I just went on web spirals. There are also different versions. Obviously, on my show there’s different versions and in the comics there’s Dinah Drake and Dinah Laurel Lance, and I had to learn everything. I just went online and tried to gather as much information, and I processed it, and I used that to put her altogether. And of course watching Arrow, too. There was five seasons of Arrow to watch at that point as well.
BIC: Are there any other superheroes you may want to play. Maybe on the Marvel side?
Juliana: Yea. Oh my god. I guess I’d love to play Storm in X-Men. All of the X-Men characters really intrigue me. Wolverine is my favorite character. And I don’t know how I would live in that world but I would love to at some point.
BIC: I don’t know if you saw Logan but they introduced X-23 as a young girl, but in the comics she’s actually a young woman so there’s a possibility. Yeah she’s actually Wolverine. She actually has the Wolverine title right now in the comics. It’s pretty cool.
Juliana: I had no idea. That’s exactly who I would want to play, like a thousand percent. That’s so cool.
BIC: That would be really cool. Like if you were with Daphne. Like they do with Arrow with the flashbacks. Daphne Keene is a younger version still and then we get the older version in the present or in the extended future. It would be pretty cool.
Juliana: Listen if you write it, I will accept the role.
BIC: I’ll have to work on that.
Juliana: Yea, That’s so cool, I would love to do something like that.
BIC: Especially with the Disney/Marvel merger we totally see the X-Men in the MCU too, soon.
Juliana: Ah Yes! Yes! That’s right.
BIC: One of the big things that’s been going on in Hollywood is the #MeToo movement, and the Arrowverse has kind of been directly affected by that with Andrew Kreisberg being removed from a number of the shows. How have you seen that affect the the show’s environment, and overall in Hollywood has it been a positive movement? Because there has also been some pushback from Michael Douglas and TJ Miller, who’s in Deadpool and Ant-Man and the Wasp. There’s a lot of different things going on. How have you seen that play out?
Juliana: What did Michael Douglas say?
BIC: Michael Douglas was accused of inappropriate behavior and he got out in front of it and denied it and it happened like 30 years ago. It was like his secretary.
Juliana: Wow. Oh my gosh, I hadn’t heard that. See, that’s the crazy thing. It’s like when you bring it out to light you know you’re forced to look at it, and so I think that in general you know not to say the #MeToo. It sounds weird… the #MeToo movement is positive because obviously it’s based on a lot of pain and horrible things that happen to women. But what comes out of knowing about it and talking about it is positive. And I think it was no different for Arrow. We talked about it on set openly. We talked about if people felt comfortable. And the men on set were held accountable and and I think we have a great cast and crew and so we start in my world at the show it was a good thing. You also got a lot of good female directors this year, more than I remember having last year. I think that all in all it’s really disappointing what happens. I spent time with Andrew and I had no idea. I had no idea. It was good that it ended up that we all we talked about it, you know. We looked at our situation, made sure everybody was good, and then continue to do great work and make sure we are treating all the women right. But it’s just so upsetting what happened. It is. It’s upsetting that any of it is happening. But it is. So we do what we have to do to fix it.
BIC: Yeah and I think there’s obviously already been a lot of changes to fix a lot of this stuff, and one of the things seems to be a change that’s happening is Matt Damon and Ben Affleck are now including inclusion riders with their companies. What do you think of those? Where they’re requiring more women and more people of color?
Juliana: I think that’s wonderful. I think it’s great because we need different voices to tell stories and essentially that’s what we are. We’re storytellers, and if you have a room full of all the same kind of person, all the same sex, or whatever it is. All the same gender or all the same race. It just it doesn’t make for the kind of storytelling that we should be doing and especially with women and people of color being in the position that we are in, and having, you know, and come up over discrimination and not being treated equally. I think it’s great on all ends. And I have not heard about that but I would encourage a lot more people to do that, just make sure everybody’s voice is included.
BIC: All right. So we’re gonna switch topics move away from some of the heavy stuff now. Obviously, Arrow takes up a lot of your time, but what else are you kind of working on right now, or do you have in the works?
Juliana: Well, it does take up a lot of my time, and honestly outside of Arrow right now I go home and spend time with my husband, and we have three dogs and I play music and I write, and I just, you know I work out and I kind of… I’m trying to just recharge in the off time and think about Arrow, because we do 23 episodes, 10 months a year, so I have a lot to think about. I feel very fulfilled right now kind of with this role. I think that’s sort of like my life right now. I mean that maybe sounds kind of intense, but it’s not. It’s lovely. Other than that I’m just trying to have a wonderful family life at home.
BIC: I love hearing that. That’s kind of the way I feel right now with my job, too. So that’s good. I know you’ve been traveling around in the kind of break that you have right now. You are going to a bunch of conventions. You were just in London, I believe, a couple weeks ago. What’s kind of been your favorite place to go?
Juliana: Actually we’re doing Europe and Australia and all that in December, this hiatus upcoming. So far we’ve done Nashville, and we stayed kind of within the state, and we’ve done Atlanta and Portland, and my favorite place to go so far – probably Atlanta just because I knew it already from The Walking Dead. We spent some time there, and we went out and it was David Ramsey’s birthday, and we went out and it was just the best time. It was such nice people. All the places we have traveled so far have been great. That’s one of my favorite parts about this job as well, to be able to travel and meet everybody.
BIC: I know earlier you talked about the people looking up to you. Have you had one of those moments when you’re at a convention where these people have been coming up to you and they look up to you as as a hero? Can you describe one of those awesome moments?
Juliana: Yea. There have been quite a few at the conventions. It’s been so eye-opening like we talked about earlier. You know, that that’s what makes you want to do your best as this role. There was this one little girl named Cassandra, who I think I have spoken about her before. She’s just so cool… she cosplays as characters from the Green Arrow. She has a wheelchair but they transformed it into an Arrow Mobile and she has a full leather suit. Now she also has one for Black Siren as well. I think she has one for Canary maybe. But she is just she’s so awesome and she said to me, she said to a few of us, I can’t remember where I saw her, but she said, ‘Before I go into surgery I have pictures of you and then they put them all over the walls and I think about that before I go into surgery, and then I come out and you guys are there and I know I’m going to heal.’ Stuff like that you know, it makes it real. It takes something that’s in the fantasy world and it makes it real. And that’s something that as an actor I’ve never experienced before, because I guess I’ve never played a hero before, and you don’t realize until that moment what a responsibility it is that it carries.
BIC: Wow, that’s that’s a pretty powerful story. I’m like almost tearing up over here.
Juliana: I know. It’s hard. It’s so cool. It’s just surreal.
BIC: I want to get back to talking about the show. One of the big draws with the Arrowverse, is these huge crossovers that you guys have, and they do really well with the ratings on The CW. Do you have any idea of like what we might see if you guys get renewed for Season 7? What that next big crossover might be?
Juliana: You know, to be honest I haven’t heard a single thing about the next crossover. I have heard things about sort of where the projected next season would but I have no idea how it would tie into a crossover. The only crossover-ish thing that I’m aware of right now is for the season finale. I just found out that Caity Lotz is coming back, which has already been announced and everything, but you might already know that.
BIC: Constantine is going to be joining the Legends of Tomorrow as a full-time regular next season.
Juliana: I saw, I’m so excited.
BIC: And he’s shown up in Arrow and he had that huge show on NBC, and he’s obviously a fan favorite. Is there – maybe not Constantine, but is there any kind of hero you want to see brought in to Arrow that you think would work well with Dinah Drake, or maybe even work against her as a primary antagonist?
Juliana: Well it’s funny you should mention Constantine, because he’s 100% on the top of that list and partially because, so the way that I started out in the DC Universe was on Constantine, and I was just in one episode, but I would love to like now as this character have that tie in again. I also love Matt Ryan in real life. He’s just the coolest person. I would absolutely love to see a team-up with him. So who else? Iris from The Flash. Any of the girls. I think Supergirl and Dinah would be awesome and Iris would be awesome even just a Dinah and Felicity mission would be awesome I would love to just do some girl missions with with anybody from these universes that would be really fun.
If you couldn’t tell. We had a blast chatting with Juliana Harkavy and can’t wait to see what happens to the Black Canary as Arrow Season 6 comes to a close and she begins to prepare for Arrow Season 7!
Juliana’s Upcoming Comic Con Schedule
If you want to meet Juliana you can catch her at these Comic Cons:
Heroes and Villains Fan Fest in Nashville from May 12 to May 13.
Puerto Rico Comic Con from May 18 to May 20.
Heroes and Villains Fan Fest in London from May 26 to May 27.
Supanova Sydney from June 15 to June 17.
Supanova Perth from June 22 to June 24.
Heroes and Villains Fan Fest New Jersey from September 8 to September 9.
and Jekyll Island Comic Con from December 8 to December 9.