EXCLUSIVE: Reina Hardesty (The Flash) has been cast as the lead of the CW pilot Maverick. Nandy Martin (The Fosters) and Zainne Saleh (The Night Shift) also have been cast as series regulars in the drama from writer Merigan Mulhern, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage’s Fake Empire and CBS TV Studios. Larry Teng (Nancy Drew) will direct the pilot as part of his overall deal with CBS TV Studios.
The premise of Maverick is likely to draw real-life parallels: In a present day America that finds itself under authoritarian rule, the President’s daughter, Kit (Hardesty) –- raised to believe her father is moral and benevolent -– has her worldview rocked on her first day at Georgetown. Challenged by her fellow students, and under the watchful eye of Secret Service agents, she’ll have to decide if her loyalties lie with her family or with a growing resistance as she navigates her freshman year.
Hardesty’s Kit was raised in a family of wealth and power. Intelligent and an inquisitive dreamer, she finds her relationship and alliance with her family’s beliefs starting to change after she moves out to begin her first year in college.
Kit’s character is biracial — as is Hardesty — and Maverick is introducing what is believed to be the first Asian American First Lady on television. (The President on the show is white.)
Martin will play Vanessa. Smart and tough, Vanessa is Kit’s new roommate at Georgetown and has no fear of speaking her mind. She constantly fights for the underdogs because she is one herself, even as she hides some of her own insecurities.
Saleh is Cara. A sophomore at the University, Cara knows more of the cruelties of the world than she lets on. She’s been marginalized and is ready to fight back against the government by using her fearless ability to hack any system.
Schwartz, Savage and Lis Rowinski executive produce via Fake Empire. Warren Hsu Leonard also executive produces. Mulhern co-executive produces with Teng.
The great month for Asian on-screen representation, punctuated by Parasite‘s triumph at the Oscars, continues. In what is believed to be the first for a broadcast network, two — or half — of the CW’s four pilots, Kung Fu and Maverick, have leads of Asian heritage. Olivia Liang headlines the Kung Fu reboot, which features predominantly Asian-American cast.
Hardesty is known to the CW audiences for her recurring role as Joss Mardon/Weather Witch on The Flash, a role she also reprised on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow. Hardesty will next be seen as a series regular on the final season of IFC’s Brockmire as Hank Azaria’s daughter. She also had a major recurring role on Crackle’s StartUp. Hardesty is repped by Beth Stein & Associates, Authentic Talent and Literary Management, and Matt Rosen at Stone, Genow.
Martin breakout role was on the Freeform series The Fosters, where she played Poppy Sinfuego. Her TV series credits also include Amazing Stories, The Mentalist and Surviving Jack. She is repped by Abrams Artists Agency and Avalon Management
Saleh can next seen opposite Vince Vaughn in the Jeremy Garelick film, The Binge. Most recently, she was a series regular in the Amazon pilot College. She also had a supporting role in the Netflix feature Cam and recurred on NBC’s The Night Shift. Saleh is repped by Abrams Artists Agency, McGuffin Management, and Goodman Genow Schenkman.
Last season, Teng directed the CW/CBS TV Studios Nancy Drew pilot, which went to series. He serves as co-exec producer on the first season. His recent directing credits include The Walking Dead for AMC, Jessica Jones and Doom Patrol. He has served as co-executive producer/director for Animal Kingdom, Graceland and Supergirl. Teng is repped by Circle of Confusion and Rothman Brecher Ehrich Livingston.