CHYLER LEIGH Opens Upon SUPERGIRL's 'Crisis' And Real-Life Mental Health Awareness

Chyler Leigh
Chyler Leigh
Credit: Michael JP Hall (Be Vocal)
Credit: The CW

Spoilers for the CW's “Crisis on Infinite Earths.”

The universe of CW's Supergirl - Earth-38 - was one of the first casualties of the current "Crisis on Infinite Earths" crossover event, but Supergirl and her sister Alex Danvers (played by Chyler Leigh) are among the survivors fighting to find a way to bring it back - and save the entire multiverse.

"Crisis on Infinite Earths" wraps up with January 14's Arrow and DC's Legends of Tomorrow episodes, and presuming everything works out Supergirl (and her cast) will return with new episodes on January 19.

Newsarama had the opportunity to speak with Leigh while in this liminal state, and we asked her about "Crisis" and her own character's personal storylines. We also discuss her recently announced team-up with Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health, opening up about her own journey with mental health,

Newsarama: Let’s jump right into it, Chyler... what can you tease about Alex’s story arc for the second half of the season?

Chyler Leigh: You know what? I've actually got some really cool things coming up, that I absolutely cannot talk about. But I'm really excited. My biggest conversation with the writers this year was I wanted to see Alex kick a little bit more ass. I wanted to see Alex get to that point where - I felt almost like the relationships that Alex had were what defined her. It's like she was constantly somebody for someone else.

In a lot of ways, like me, where I have been. And I wanted to see her start - especially after the second half because the first half of the season was all build up towards the crossover. I can't even imagine the groundwork that they laid to do that. It was insane. I mean, I'm reading the scripts just for the first part of the season going, “I have no idea what's going on.” But the second half of the season is really focused and very powerful. And I'm really excited because Alex definitely gets to kick more ass this season and that was a big hope for me to be able to do so.

Credit: The CW

Nrama: Speaking of “Crisis”, we are halfway through and Supergirl (and your) Earth hare gone. Can you say anything about what's to come? Do you know?

Leigh: Nobody does well, as the name suggests, and the whole history of “Crisis on Infinite Earths”, how it goes is that everything falls apart. It's a matter of getting to square one in a lot of ways and trying to figure out how to navigate all that chaos when there's so much out of control. But an opportunity for all of these heroes to come together.

It’s hilarious when you have us all in one room because all you hear is leather walking around. It's like all different variations of squeak and whatever other noises that can be made from the suits. It looks like a Halloween parade, but it's fantastic to have all these people and all these characters come together. It’s absolute mayhem when we're filming. It's a logistical nightmare just to be honest.

But what comes of it, it's so exciting, especially for the fans, but also for us. It’s like a little high school reunion when we get to see each other go, “Hey, how's it going?” Just realizing what we do is so important. As silly as it may seem, in the midst of it, what we're doing is so important and the fact that so many people love what we're doing and can identify in one way, shape, or form with a storyline or a character. It makes the chaos all worth it.

Nrama: It was announced recently that there’s a Superman show in development. What would you like to see from it? Would you like to see Supergirl crossover?

Leigh: I love Tyler Hoechlin. I think he’s a phenomenal human being who is so kind and so compassionate and very, very humble. We all call it the first episode he was in. Everybody said, dude, you're so ready to get your own show. But it took a long time for Warner Brothers and DC to agree on that and make that happen. And the fact that it is I think is so fantastic.

Credit: The CW

I love his version of Clark Kent, Superman. I think he's just done a phenomenal job. And Elizabeth Tulloch, who plays Lois, is just lovely as well. So, I'm really excited for that. I think they’re going to be in Vancouver, which is also really cool because it's like the more the merrier up there, more friends we get to play with. I think Supergirl traveling over there would be awesome. But I would like to be part of that as well. He’s basically her cousin as well, you know.

Nrama: I would love to see that, and when I say Supergirl I mean the whole cast.

Leigh: Sure, sure.

Nrama: Speaking of Alex, a big part of her story has been her journey towards motherhood and because of “Crisis” that took a pause. Are we going to see that story continue after hearing the devastating news of the adoption falling through at the end of last season?

Leigh: Yeah, that was really tragic. We've really been trying to be very graceful with the story and to be very respectful and do it in a way that isn't trying to shove anything down anybody's throat.

The whole thing about the adoption falling through the same day is incredibly realistic. And one of the producers of the show said that happened to one of her best friends. It literally came and went in the same day. And the fact that that can happen, and does happen to thousands of people is one of the reasons why we tell the stories that we tell. It’s absolutely something that will be approached, if not by the end of the season, it will be by next season.

But because there is so much going on - one of the things that I mentioned to them too was that Alex knows the stakes and with the whole crisis coming up, it's not like she can just say, “Oh, sorry, hang on. I have to pick my kid up from daycare.” It's like she'd have to wear like a Bulletproof babybjorn. I can't imagine the entire DEO being padded with like the little corner pads and the baby would be in lockdown. It would have been a much different at this point.

But all in all, I think it's been a journey about Alex really understanding what she wants and that it could to take a while, maybe, maybe not, to get there. But she's working on readying herself and finding what she's most passionate about and obviously has the support of everybody around her to get ready for when that does happen. Because it was important that we do make it happen. It's just really wanting to create an interesting story, which I've pitched I think a phenomenal story and waiting to find out if they're going to utilize it next season, which they very well might.

Nrama: This season has majorly focused on Lena’s relationship with Kara, but Alex was friends with her too. In “Crisis” they were able to squeeze a scene in between Lena and Alex? What can we expect from their relationship moving forward? Do you think their friendship can ever recover?

Leigh: I was really glad that they've put those scenes. Especially in the first episode, that “Crisis” episode, between Alex and Lena because you're right so much of the focus is Lena and Kara. Alex is going, “hello, Hey, you know, kind of voice of reason, but it hurts me too.” Because she was incredibly close, but at the same time Alex has been lying as well. But that's why Alex was trying to be that voice of reason because it's a two way street, takes two to tango, right? So, it's like for Lena to be holding onto so much and not say anything, it was sort of what I appreciated about the episode was Alex's plea to Lena from a human, human standpoint. It's like, "Look, I know you're powerful. I know what you're capable of. You know, I'm powerful and what I’m capable of, I'm trying to appeal to you as Lena, my friend, as opposed to Lena Luther who is, L-Corp."

I really appreciated those scenes to be able to work those elements out, whether or not they would be successful. And I love Katie McGraw. She's a phenomenal human being. But yeah, it’s definitely something where it's still yet to be seen because the repercussions are still up in the air on the back half of the season as well. There aren't even band-aids out yet. It's still a wound and we're just figuring out how to navigate around that wound.

Nrama: One of my favorite things about the show is Alex’s relationship with Kara. Are we going to see more sisterly moments this season?

Leigh: 100%. Melissa and I are always very adamant about pushing for that because that is the heartbeat of the show. An episode where we don't get to work together - it's kind of like awe or episodes when we have to like fight or argue, it's like, aw. But, yes, definitely we're going to see more of that sisterly bond and working together. And things are definitely shaken up after the “Crisis”. Some pretty serious stuff goes down, but they're always their number one support system.

Credit: The CW

I will say I went to go see Frozen 2 - took my girls, my husband and I took our daughters to go see it. And I've never seen more likeness to two characters, well to four characters than Elsa, Anna, Kara, and Alex. The whole time I'm just sitting here going, "Oh my God, this is hilarious." So, take DC to crossover with Disney, I think we had a super Frozen experience. It's pretty awesome.

Nrama: It was just announced that you’ll be teaming up with Be Vocal: Speak Up for Mental Health. Can you tell us a bit about this foundation?

Leigh: It’s an initiative to do exactly what the name says about being vocal and speaking up about where you are right now in your life, particularly in the world of mental health. Breaking down the walls and the stigmas that go along with it and being able to utilize a community based organization that's really highlighting how important a conversation is and how important becoming educated about mental health and mental illnesses.

Chyler Leigh
Chyler Leigh
Credit: Michael JP Hall (Be Vocal)

There are so many different faces that it takes on - it's basically a one-stop-shop, a place that you can go to really learn more about yourself or someone that you know and how to walk through the journey of healing.

Nrama: What made you decide to open up about your own mental health?

Leigh: I think just hitting a point of now is the time to speak up. It's just time where in this day, it makes me sound old by saying that, but in this day and age - in a time where social media is so prevalent and everybody has eyeballs on everything. When people are trying to keep up with the latest this and the latest that - it's such an excellent time to be able to highlight things that are incredibly important like mental health awareness and understanding the different faces.

And I was just very honored to be approached by the Be Vocal folks to share my story and just personally reached the point where I've been able to recognize enough from sharing in person with people that I've met along the way, from fans, other people in the industry: actors, producers, a lot of people that are in my industry that are on the same journey or struggling with the same thing or have walked through a similar experience. And to just say, all right, I'm not afraid. I've reached a point where I'm not afraid anymore.

This journey, being able to do that – The more I talk about it the more I'm opening up about it, the more impact - just in my everyday life. From fans that I've met along the way that I've seen repeatedly over the years. I've watched them as they've opened up and shared their story with me and me just listening and being there to encourage and support. It’s interesting because I feel like in a lot of ways I've been encouraged to do the same, and that’s kind of my time.

Credit: The CW

Nrama: That's beautiful to hear. And speaking of those fans, would you like to see mental health explored more on Supergirl?

Leigh: Absolutely. I think that it's such a huge point of what we are kind of highlighting - this season in particular. Virtual reality is such a huge part of it, which if you think about it, virtual reality is incredibly highlighted in the world today. And it's like we all see different versions of ourselves or we're all living in something right now, but we want to be somewhere else, or we want to look like something else, or we want to do something else. We plug into whatever it is, that outlet that it is and just sort of project ourselves in a different way so we don't have to face where we're at. We can take on something else.

And I feel like that has been really touched upon a lot this season. We're making a lot of headway as far as bringing it around to what the core of that is – it’s the insecurities, it's the shame. it's the guilt of being where you are in your life and not knowing how to cope. You escape. Hopefully by the end of the season we see that kind of come full circle as you see it all get messed up beforehand.

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