Queen Latifah seeks to stake her claim in The Equalizer franchise as she takes on part-time mom and part-time hero Robyn McCall in CBS’ reimagining of the classic 1985 series. While the Girls Trip actress may be the first Black woman portraying the Equalizer in the franchise’s span, powerful Black women seeking to do right by the little guys have made their marks throughout history, she said.
“We’ve been equalizing for centuries, from Hatshepsut to Stacey Abrams to Kamala Harris,” the lead star and executive producer said during CBS’ TCA panel on Wednesday.
Set to premiere after the Super Bow on Feb. 7, The Equalizer reboot follows Latifah’s Robyn McCall as she balances her crime-fighting life with her duties as a single mother. While the reboot will focus on Latifah’s champion defending the downtrodden, the latest iteration will also feature The Equalizer’s vulnerable, and warmer side – something that didn’t receive as much attention in previous versions.
During the panel, which also featured executive producers Andrew Marlowe, Terri Miller and Debra Martin Chase, Latifah said the original and Denzel Washington’s versions of the character were stoic, closed-off and guarded.
“She doesn’t have that luxury. She has a teenage daughter. She has to figure out how to turn off the soldier in her and turn on the mom,” she said.
Robyn’s circumstances as a Black woman, single-mother and crime-fighter will allow the show to explore new paths that are engaging enough for weekly episodes, Latifah added. However, to ensure that the CBS reboot stays true to the original source material, the executive producing team collaborated with Richard Lindheim, who co-created the original 1985 series.
Lindheim, who Latifah called “a sweetheart of a man,” was involved in the project until he died of heart failure earlier this month. He served as an executive producer on the show and caught a glimpse of the final project before his passing.
“He got to see the finished project before he transitioned and he felt very positive about it,” Latifah added.
Chase, who said The Equalizer reboot was made for Latifah specifically, revealed that the series pilot will be dedicated to the late veteran TV executive.
“He gave us his blessing, he gave us his baby,” Chase added. “We accept the responsibility to continue to make a great show in his honor.”
The Equalizer cast also includes Chris Noth, Lorraine Toussaint, Tory Kittles, Adam Goldberg, Liza Lapira and Laya DeLeon Hayes. Marlowe, Miller, Chase, Lindheim, Dana Owens (Queen Latifah), John Davis, John Fox, Shakim Compere and director Liz Friedlander (EP on pilot only) are executive producers for Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group, in association with CBS Studios.