Marvel has been doing a phenomenal job of championing the stories of Black superheroes in 2018. The success of Black Panther, the premiere of the CW TV show Black Lightning, and now the new television show on Freeform, Cloak & Dagger, are prime examples.
Breakout star Aubrey Joseph takes on the role of Tyrone Johnson, a young Black man growing up in the south. When Tyrone meets Tandy Bowen (Olivia Holt), they realize that they met as children on a traumatic night. When they reunite, the powers they acquired that fateful night are unlocked; Tyrone is Cloak, who is able to tell people’s deepest fears, and Tandy is Dagger, who can read people’s hopes.
Joseph told CASSIUS that his favorite part about the show is how real it is. Tyrone attempts to understand his newfound powers as superhero Cloak while still going through everyday struggles of being a Black teen.
“It’s the reality of the world we live in,” Joseph told CASSIUS. “No matter what you do, even if you’re a superhero, you’re still going to deal with the same issues because you’re Black. I’m just glad a lot of young people get to see a superhero like this that isn’t perfect and is really trying to find himself, not only as a young Black man in America but as a superhero as well.”
With a backdrop like New Orleans, it’s impossible for the culture of the city not to seep into the plotline. The essence of the “Big Easy” works seamlessly with the show, something that Joseph says sets it apart from other shows that take place in New York City and Los Angeles.
“New Orleans is all about hope, no matter what the world throws at you, they have kept fighting,” he said. “It speaks a lot to who Tandy and Tyrone are as characters.”
Another notable aspect about the show is how open Tandy and Tyrone are about challenging each other. Joseph’s natural chemistry with Holt facilitates these conversations about race and privilege in a way that isn’t painful or awkward, but compelling and necessary.
“It’s something we’re both very passionate about,” he said. “The reason why we’re so behind as a society is because there are so many things we just shove under the rug and don’t address. It just goes to show that anybody can connect, all we can do is try and see the other perspective.”
Joseph said that this moment in time is particularly amazing for portraying a Black superhero and reversing the narratives that dehumanize Black young men. He wants to show audiences that there’s more to these stories, particularly for young Black kids.
“It’s amazing for these young people to see characters like mine as the new normal,” he said. “They’re growing up and seeing Black Panther, Black Lightning, Cloak, and Luke Cage. Even getting to meet Chadwick and chop it up for a second was just an amazing experience. I feel like we’re heading in the right direction.“