Nafessa Williams (Code Black) and China Anne McClain (House of Payne) have nabbed lead roles, opposite Cress Williams in the CW drama pilot, Black Lightning! The series comes from Greg Berlanti (who holds down the DC Comics fort at the network) and powerhouse duo, Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil. The Akils also share writing credits for the pilot, which was created by Trevor Von Eeden, and will be directed by Akil.

Black Lightning follows Jefferson Pierce (Williams) who made the choice to hang up his suit and secret identify years ago, but is thrusted back into the vigilante game when his younger daughter, Jennifer (McClain), an independent and outspoken scholar-athlete with a bit of a wild streak, is recruited by a local gang. Williams portrays Anissa Pierce, a passionate and quick-witted twenty-something who balances medical school and a part-time teaching job at her father’s school.

In the DC Comics universe, Anissa and Jennifer follow in their father’s footsteps and become superheroes: Thunder and Lightning, respectively.

McClain’s most popular recent roles include: the music prodigy, Chyna Parks in the Disney Channel series A.N.T. Farm and the feisty Jazmine Payne in Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. Most recently, she wrapped the film Brother’s Blood opposite Trey Songz and stars in Disney Channel’s upcoming Descendants 2.

Williams had a major recurring role on the CBS medical drama Code Black this season and will also appear on Showtime’s Twin Peaks reboot.

Akil and Brock Akil executive produce with Berlanti Productions.



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Tonja Renée Stidhum is a screenwriter/director with cheeks you want to pinch... but don't (unless she wants you to). She is made of sugar and spice and everything rice... with the uncanny ability to make a Disney/Pixar reference in the same sentence as a double entendre.

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