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Azie Tesfai On Becoming The First Actor To Write An Episode For 'Supergirl': 'It's Incredibly Personal'

(CBS) - Supergirl returns tonight with an all-new episode on The CW at 9/8c. In tonight's episode, titled "Blind Spots," Kelly Olsen assumes the role of Guardian. Azie Tesfai, who plays Kelly Olsen, also wrote this episode marking the first time an actor has written for a Greg Berlanti show.

CBS' Matt Weiss spoke to Tesfai about her groundbreaking opportunity and what it's like to become a superhero.

MW- Hello Azie! Congratulations on the new episode of Supergirl coming out tonight on The CW at 9/8c. You got the opportunity to become the first actor to actually write an episode for a Greg Berlanti show for this one. How does that feel?

AT- I didn't know I was the first until I was well into writing it, which is probably a good thing. It's amazing. I had a really lovely conversation with Greg after and I feel very lucky that I got to be the first and that this character, specifically becoming a superhero and stepping into her power, It all feels very serendipitous. I feel lucky that I get to be the person to do it.

MW- How do you think it would have been different if you had known?

AT- Yeah, probably a freak out or two [Laughs]. This is a lot of pressure, I wouldn't have wanted to mess this up. I can't be the last and so I if I don't get this right I could be. I don't want to mess this opportunity up or somebody else coming in and saying I want to write and they're like, we've tried this, we're not doing this anymore.

I had already written a sample script for Supergirl that I sent to my show runners and they loved it and sent it to Warner Brothers and our producer Greg Berlanti, and they signed off on me writing an episode. I also did the writers room for a month. So I joined the writers room and did the whole 10 to five day, which I'm a big fan, especially during COVID, because we did a virtual writing room.

So I was in my pajamas like, constantly and then just put some sort of sweater that felt presentable and had all my food and my snacks and my dog. It was like a dream, I'm like, I could live this, [Laughs]. Like I don't know why I'm going to set and getting my hair makeup done every day, I could do this.

But so that was amazing and then I found out that I was going to write the episode and actually become a superhero; that just blew me away. Then I found out I was the first one to write an episode. So it was good it didn't all happen at the same time because I think I might have just not been able to go through the process the same way.

MW- That's a good point it'd be scary to know all that ahead of time. You're the first and you don't want to be the last. When you get to set and it's time to shoot the episode what was that like putting on the suit for the first time?

AT- Emotional, which I was very surprised by the first time you put on your own supersuit it's like a power you didn't know you had. You just stand a little taller, it really is a game changer in your confidence, you walk differently. It's not a normal thing to go to work and put on a superhero suit. Laughs]. So I think I underestimated how how special it was.

Our team was wonderful and allowed me to be involved in the design process of the suit. To actually also see it in its final form from the animation that we started with was incredible. We had started two years before initially, before COVID, and then we had six full months to actively develop it with the studio here in LA. We worked with Ironhead who also did the Wonder Woman costume and Batman and I was geeking out non stop pretty much of how cool the process was to make a suit.

MW- Was it a different experience on set for an episode you wrote yourself?

AT- It was very shocking and jarring in the best way. I think from the beginning of writing it to being there on set, just even little things like the signage of a store. I would be like oh my gosh I came up with that! Then I'd take 100 selfies and photos with it. It was very surreal the whole thing.

MW- That's really funny you got this job as an actor, you write an episode, become a superhero; but when you look back it's the improvement in your posture and the prop store signs you were most excited about [Laughs].

AT: [Laughs] Everyone thought I was nuts but it is a wild thing to think of a name of something and then see it. It really was a dream come true.

MW- You mentioned you collaborated on the design of the suit. So what parts of the suit were specifically you?

AT- The hair makeup we worked really closely together and so doing the braids was something that I felt lucky that we had an idea with it and they approved it right away. I always wanted to do the half helmet because of the comics and the gold.

The gold was pretty quickly approved and then the half helmet logistically, there were concerns like can we do this? Doing stunts and stuff in this but Ironhead was amazing, they figured it out. Then once we had that foundation and the character was visible there were all these other little things that I wanted to do. Things like little gold pieces, the braids, and little accents. They really let me go for it and loved all of the ideas.

The costume designers really were great at making it usable too because that's something I hadn't thought about. Thing like wearing it after lunch, having interview at home, or like, if I decide to hydrate that day making sure it's gonna like a lot to take off.

You sit in that costume for like 15 hours every day and I was one of the last costumes that needed to be developed so I got the benefit of taking care of all the issues everyone else had for mine. I am by far the most comfortable person on set like, I feel great [Laughs]. So I was very lucky to have my superhero suit come later because I got to benefit. It's like being the youngest child, like, you know, they figured it out. And then you're hopefully less damage. Maybe

MW- Your castmate's pain was your testing ground [laughs]. Last question before I let you go for everyone who's so excited to finally see you in the costume and to see you as Guardian; what message do you have for the fans?

AT- Man, I hope that you enjoy the episode a lot of hard work went into making it. It's incredibly personal. A lot of the words that [Kelly] says I wrote with the feelings that I have. It was very, very personal. I felt empowered stepping into being a superhero and I hope that a lot of our fans see themselves in that character and feel empowered.

MW- Congratulations again Azie and looking forward to seeing those sign pictures on Instagram or something so we can all see them.

AT- I'll start, I'll post all 400 shots [Laughs]

MW- Lots of slides, can't wait. Thank you and all the best!

AT- You too Matt, take care!

Watch new episodes of Supergirl on The CW. Check your local listings for more information.

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