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Supergirl's Nicole Maines Opens Up On Season 6 And That Groundbreaking Dreamer Storyline - Exclusive Interview

Long before Nicole Maines donned a face mask and took to the streets of National City as Supergirl's Dreamer, she was busy being a real-life superhero to the trans community. Between appearing on documentaries like The Trans List and later Not Your Skin and Visible: Out on Television, Maines has continually used her space in the spotlight to lend a voice to social issues.

As a trans activist and advocate from a very young age, Maines tells the whole story of her transition in her biography Becoming Nicole, written by Amy Ellis Nutt. From there, she took her advocacy to the Arrowverse, where she's played TV's first trans superhero, Nia Nal/Dreamer, on Supergirl since 2018 while fighting alongside the likes of Superman and the Flash. What makes Dreamer so powerful? Someone who's lived her story and her truth plays her. But more than that, Maines has lent a hand in the writing room, helping pen some of Dreamer's most incredible storylines and quotes. While Supergirl may be making its final bow, Dreamer will continue to live on in everyone she's touched — and hopefully in comics, TV, and maybe even movies in the future.

Looper spoke to Maines in an exclusive interview where she teased the sixth and final season of Supergirl and what it's like working with Melissa Benoist and Jeremy Jordan. She also opened up about how the writers encouraged her to offer input and guidance on Dreamers' storylines, making her character one of the most authentic LGBTQ+ voices on TV — and what people can do to lend their support to the trans community.

Supergirl: Almost gone, but never forgotten

How did you react to the cancellation news, and would you be down to appear in the DC Universe as Dreamer again on another show, and if so, which one?

How did I react to the news? By getting a comic book going, because I kind of... I didn't know that it was going to be season six. I didn't know if we were going to do six or seven. But I kind of had a feeling moving forward. I was like, "I know this show's not going to go on forever." When I heard, I was like, "I'm not done with Nia, I'm not done telling this character's story. She has so much left to do. I think she means so much to so many people." I mean, she means so much to me. I've really, really come to love her and have grown protective over her.

We started working on a comic for her, and just because I knew, regardless of whether it was six or seven, I was like, "This character needs to exist beyond the show." I think she's too awesome. I think she's too important to just kind of be a one-off character. As far as appearing in another, absolutely is the short answer. Absolutely, I would go, and I would... I'm not super picky where she turns up. I would love for her to ride into Gotham on a pink razor scooter and be like, "I had a dream, something's coming, I'm rooting for you girl," and scooter off. Just kind of have her be this harbinger of stuff that she's seen in her... Just going around to different cities, kicking off different storylines. "I saw some s***, gear up!"

I love that so much.

I also, I wouldn't say no to ... Well, I think Dreamer could carry her own show.

For sure, that would be amazing. I'd also love to see her on Superman & Lois.

I would, too. Well, that's kind of also... I was like, "They need a babysitter?" I would love to see just Dreamer as a babysitter and having visions and stuff.

Then you know that she's going to get overwhelmed and call Brainy over, and then it's going to be that typical rom-com setup — totally.

Totally. Are you kidding me? The babysitter who calls her boyfriend over? Totally.

Making superhero history

Amazing. Your arc on Supergirl has been incredible as the first transgender superhero onscreen, and both you and Dreamer have such vital stories to tell. How much input did you have in shaping Dreamer's trans storyline, and what points were most important for you to hit?

Yeah, so the writers have been really, really fantastic. Any time we address Dreamers transness, I'm always involved. They're always asking me what I think, as someone who's been through that, and then just also as someone who's familiar with who Dreamer is. They've been really, really good in valuing my input. They always have a general idea of what they want to do, and so they'll come to me. 

They'll be like, "This is what this episode's about, this is what we're doing, what do we think?" Then we kind of go from there. For last season, for "Reality Bites," we knew we wanted to do an episode dealing with trans violence. Because especially that year, we had been experiencing and are experiencing this crazy spike. We're seeing record levels of violence against specifically trans women of color, so they knew they wanted to do something dealing with Yvette being assaulted, and Dreamer kind of going after that. Dreamer trying to protect not only her friend but her community.

We were dealing with that, and there's so much that happens in an episode, and there's so much that ends up on the cutting room floor. We had several points where we knew we were like, "This is what needs to make it into the episode." Regardless of what gets cut and what doesn't make it into the episode, we had three points that we knew needed to make it into the episode. 

We needed to address that Yvette's situation was... Or Yvette was in more danger as a trans woman of color, and it was really important to me that Yvette is the one that said that. Because there's no trans woman who is not fully self-aware of her own situation and the danger she's in every time she goes on a date or simply goes to the club and walks down the street. It was really important for me that Yvette recognized that. It was important that we used accurate numbers, at least at the time of filming. On the day of, we made sure that in that scene when William and Kara were talking about the article they're writing and the violence.

Inspiring the next generation

There were like, 20... I think at the time of filming, it was 23 trans women that we knew of who were murdered, and that the real number was likely to be much higher. It was really important that was an accurate, real number at the point of filming because it was really important to me that people understand the reality of what's going on. 

Then also, it was really important for me to acknowledge that historically, trans-related hate crimes have gone undervalued by law enforcement. There is misgendering in police reports, and there's just not a priority to protect this community. I really wanted to make it known that a big part of Dreamer's desperation to do this is because she truly was the only one protecting that community. There was no one else willing to do that. Those were some of the points that were really, really important to me. I said, "Regardless of what else we do in this episode, these three points have to make it in, and people need to hear that."

I love that they took your advice on that. That's amazing.

They've been really, really good about it.

Have you heard any stories from fans or parents about Dreamer being an inspiration to members of the trans and non-binary communities?

Yeah, I mean, every time I go to a convention or something, I always have these experiences with other trans folks. It's all kind of along the same line: We never thought that we would see ourselves like this, we never thought that we would see ourselves... Like "Crisis on Infinite Earths," for example, I never thought that I would see a trans superhero standing next to Superman, and the Flash, and DC's heaviest hitters — their biggest properties. The trans superhero is up there fighting alongside them.

That is something that we never thought that we would get as a community. A lot of that is just this nonverbal communication, this understanding between us where there's nothing we can do except cry and hug each other. Because it's like, "We are here, we did it. That doesn't mean there's not more work to do, but look at how far we've come." It's so easy to get discouraged — especially right now with all of these bills that are being introduced in Arkansas, and Alabama, and Montana, and everywhere. It seems like people are trying to erase trans existence. It's really, really nice to have these reminders that trans people exist, and that we are beautiful, and that we are valued, and that we can keep up with Superman.

Homing in on the Super Friends

Definitely, it's really nice to celebrate those moments.

It's nice to have a win.

Yeah, exactly, for sure.

There's so much hardship, and there's so much that I get discouraged by it. It's really nice to have some of these moments where we're like, "Yeah, we're doing all right."

Definitely. With Supergirl getting sucked into the Phantom Zone, will we be seeing a little bit less of her this season?

Well, that's the thing, we're going to be seeing a little less of her while she's in the Phantom Zone, of course, because Nal was away. But she's still very much a part of the show, and so the first part of the season is going to be all about the Super Friends desperately trying to get back to Supergirl, and desperately trying to track her down in the Phantom Zone, and get her home to them. We have some really cool stuff, I think we do it in a really fun way, and Dreamer's got some really cool stuff to be involved with all of that.

Can you tease anything or no?

Yeah, well, I mean, we have some really cool stuff involving Dreamer and Brainiac. They go kind of on their own little adventure that I can't really describe the details of which, but that was some of the most fun I've had on the show is doing that story.

That's awesome. I'm excited to see all of the smaller characters get their chance to really shine this season. Do you know if Jeremy Jordan is coming back? Can you tease that if you do know?

I have no idea. I would love to have some Legion moments. I really think we need at least a little tiny detail of Nura Nal. I think we've talked about her so much. Every time I talk to the writers, I'm like, "How are we feeling? We want to see Nura." Because I would love a moment where Nura just kind of looks at Brainiac, and she's like, "My grandma... Interesting."

I love that.

I'd love to do something like that.

We need a Legion spinoff, really.

That would be fun!

Join the Legion! That would be amazing.

That's what I've realized. I'm just desperately trying to stay employed. They were like, "Supergirl ended," and I'm like, "Well, I need a gig."

Writing her own story

One thing that I've always applauded Supergirl for is being real about the struggles that a myriad of minority groups face. "Reality Bites" is one of the most powerful episodes of TV I've ever seen. You sort of answered this a little bit, but how much of a role did you have in shaping some of those scenes? Maybe some of them that we didn't get to see, and what did you think about the final product?

I was really, really happy with how it came out. I think if I could go back and change anything, I would have Yvette involved a little bit more. I think that along the lines of her being self-aware of her situation, I kind of would've liked to see her just involved more. I know it was about Dreamer and about Supergirl, but I think we could have done more to not showcase her as just a victim. I think we did that a little bit in that final scene, and that's, I think, a little bit of a failure on my part to kind of recognize more that Yvette is more than just a victim. Because we wanted to see her obviously survive, and honestly move forward, and deal with the aftermath of that.

But I think I would have liked to have Yvette just do a little bit more, and just kind of show her as less of a... "I got attacked, so I'm going to delete my social media account, and then Nia is going to talk me out of it." Maybe Yvette and Dreamer team up, or something, or Dreamer comes to you, and she's kind of like, "Who is this guy, give me the details?"

I think it could have also been cool to see Dreamer knocking on Yvette's window because Yvette just loves Dreamer so much. I think that would have been really nice to kind of have Yvette see Dreamer coming to her rescue and knowing that she's not alone. Even helping track this guy down, I would've liked. But I think overall, I'm really happy with how that episode came out, and I'm really, really happy with the beats. I loved Dreamer getting to, again, explore that darkness. Because that's the thing — we talk about superheroes, and superheroes don't kill.

Don't mess with Dreamer

But at the same time, with someone like that, what do you do? With someone who has made it a point to hurt people because of who they are, do we give them a second chance? I think we ended on a really good note, at least for Dreamer, where she's kind of like, "If I see you again, it's on-site." I mean, I'm a little frustrated with COVID, too.

Because I would have loved to do an episode this season where maybe Angus, Gregory Bauer is his real name, where Gregory Bauer breaks out of prison or something and comes after Dreamer — because there is that knowledge where Dreamer used her own face and her own name for her Upswipz profile. I think there was that opportunity to... No, there is a bad guy with a vendetta against Dreamer who knows her secret identity. What do you... I think there could have been something we could have done better, but COVID.

Right, it ruins everything.

Yeah, but I was pretty happy with how that episode came out. That was one of my favorites that I got to do.

Yeah, it was really incredible. I think another thing that would have been interesting to hit is that so many people like that get out — if they even get arrested at all — it that would have been interesting to hit that as well.

Yeah, it would have been interesting to kind of see a failure to persecute. What if he walks free? What do you do then? Well, we know what Dreamer does, then she goes on another rampage, 2.0.

You've got one shot. Then you're done.

She's like, "Well, I gave them their chance to put him in jail, so I'm going to put them in the ground."

Fighting fragile egoes

I love that so much. This line from the episode still gives me chills, "Your fragile ego was shattered, your sense of self is so shaky that anything outside of your narrow world view threatens it." How do you handle people like this in real life, and what advice would you give to anyone else dealing with these sorts of toxic people like Angus?

I was really proud of that line. That was something that I came up with. I was really, really happy with it. Because shaping who Angus was, was really fun too because we all know who that type of person is. We really wanted to kind of have a moment where a Dreamer kind of just was like, "I have your number, I know who you are." 

I would say for people who are dealing with folks like that... I would preface it by saying that it is always possible for people to learn, and it is always possible for people to grow. However, there is also the part where we need to ask, "do they want to grow?" Do they want to learn about something that I have had to come to terms with? Also, because I... Especially on social media, the comment section, it's always ...

My fault is I always see things as a learning opportunity, and so I will try to educate somebody. I have to remind myself that, especially on social media, people who are leaving nasty, hateful, transphobic comments are not there to be educated. They are not there to learn. They are there to make trans people feel bad about being who they are. 

To that degree, yes, people can always learn, but if they're not, it is not your responsibility to make them a better person. It is not on you to teach them, to try to change them. If they want to be a dark, cruel person, that is on them, and that is a darkness that they have to carry with them. We cannot bring ourselves down to that level because chances are we're just going to continue to hurt ourselves more. Transphobes are not your responsibility to fix!

Romancing a 12th level intellect

Sometimes walking away is the best self-care you can give yourself.


Dreamer and Brainy have such a fun, unique dynamic. Can you tease anything about that relationship in the final season?

Well, now we have Dreamer and Brainiac finally over the hump of their miscommunication. Now they have promised no more secrets between each other, and so now we can see them moving forward just as this healthy couple who's... They're in on everything, and they're working together finally, and I mean, with someone who sees the future and the 12th level intellect, there is nothing that they cannot do together. 

Now that they're both on the same page, I mean, I think we are going to see them in an entirely new light. Almost kind of a new dynamic because now we're also seeing Brainiac uninhibited. We're seeing him being fully himself or seeing Dreamer being fully herself, and them honestly giving their full selves to each other. I think that is a duo that is powerful, and that is a duo that is fun. Like I said, we have some really great stuff with Brainiac and Dreamer coming up that I can't wait for people to see.

A super cast

Absolutely. What was it like working with Melissa Benoist and Jeremy Jordan?

Melissa is, first and foremost, an icon, and she is the sweetest, most talented, caring person ever. She's fantastic. And I'm so, so lucky to have gotten to do all of these scenes with her. Getting to do that scene in "Reality Bites" where Dreamer breaks down to Kara, I was really, really fortunate to have Melissa there. 

That's a really scary scene to do, and you put yourself in a really vulnerable state, and Melissa's just so kind. I'm really, really fortunate to have had her for that, and just for all of these scenes with Nia and Kara. I love their dynamic, and they've kind of gone from mentor and mentee to friends, to partners, to sisters.

I really, really value that. With Jeremy, that was a really fun scene to do because I, of course, didn't get to work with Jeremy in season one, three, or four — or two — because I can count. But so getting to do those scenes with him was really fun. 

I mean, I get so excited anytime we drop a reference to Nura Nal, and so having him come back and kind of be like, "Yeah, I'm kind of her Watson," I'm like, "Yay, that was really fun to do." Having Winn using dream energy, too, was so cool. And Jeremy is just so nice, and so awesome, and funny. It was really, really great to get to know him and work with him. He's just so cool.

Once a thespian, always a thespian

I've met him a couple of times. He's just hilarious.

Isn't he awesome?

He's one of the sassiest people. I love it so much.

I adore him, and well, of course now ... Because now I'm the f***ing theater gay, so now I'll just be on Spotify, and I'm like, "This is really good, who is this? Dammit!" That's the weirdest thing about having started to work in show business, is any time I'm watching a show, or I'm flipping through TV, or I have Spotify on shuffle, I'm like, "That's my friend, that's my friend too, I know that person." I was sick one day, and so I was just stuck in bed. I'd caught this terrible virus, and so I was just looking through TV, and I was on YouTube.

I was looking through different stuff. I was watching clips of things, and I was like, "I think I saw... That's Andrea." I started watching something else, "That's Sam." So I was like, "Okay, I'll start watching TV." And then, "That's Katie getting torn apart by dinosaurs," okay. "I guess I'll listen to music." Then, "Nope, that's Jeremy."

But at the same time, I'm such a fan of all of my friends, so I'm like, "I won't put the phone down." I think one of my favorite songs on my Spotify is jamming out to Jeremy in the Rapunzel animated series. Actually, that show at all, I don't know what it's about, but that song is such a bop. I'm like, "Yeah, ready as I'll ever be, all right! I don't know what this is about, but I love it."

That's amazing. Have you heard his Celine Dion?


The Cat's out of the bag

No? I hear him go as high as he goes, and I'm like, "How are you a real person?" Who allowed this?

None of them are real people. I had the pleasure of carpooling with Melissa once. We were going to a thing. It was just her and me, and we started listening to the Wicked soundtrack, and you know how that goes — it turned into a singalong. I'm just like, "How are you real?" "Defying Gravity" came on, and she's just hitting the note. I was like, "I can't do it," but I'm like, "Good for you, go, girl."

That's awesome. Can you tease anything about Eliza Helm's young Cat Grant arc, and is there any possibility we might see Calista Flockhart for a scene or two?

No idea what's going on with... I desperately hope that Calista comes back, because we know that Nia has worked with Cat Grant before — she was a speechwriter at the white house before she was recommended to CatCo. 

I would love to see that dynamic. Because I mean, Cat Grant and Nia Nal together, I think, would be such a sassy duo. I kind of see it in my mind that they critique each other on their fashion choices. It's like, "Miss Nal, those shoes are bold," and I'm like, "Cat, I didn't realize doorknobs were earrings now." Just them kind of digging each other's fashion choices would totally be their vibe.

Double vision

I just want to see them read each other for days. That's amazing.

I think it would be... But at the same time, in a loving way, they love each other. I think it'd be so cool. Also, I mean, Cat Grant was one of my favorite characters, so I just kind of want to meet Calista. But as far as Eliza's Calista goes, Eliza, first of all, is a dream. She is so sweet, and her Cat Grant — she captured that character so perfectly. And watching her do those scenes was phenomenal. It was just like, "You can't tell me you're not Cat Grant." I mean, it was spot on.

Even the appearance is uncanny, I looked at a photo, and I was like...

Yeah, they did a really good job with the hair, and the makeup, and just the way she was holding herself too. She got the movements down, and it was, I'm telling you, perfect.

Awesome, I'm very excited for that. If we can't have Calista, I'm excited that we get Cat in whatever iteration we get.

Yeah, it was really cool.

Daydream believer

What legacy do you hope Dreamer leaves behind?

I hope she's opened the door for more trans superheroes. I hope that she is the first of many, and I hope that the legacy is a bright future for this character. I hope that her legacy on this show is Dreamer in the comics, Dreamer in more forms of media. Seeing her just continue to grow, and prosper, and continue, and just see her evolve as a hero — and just kind of become, I hope, a mainstay in the DC Universe. 

Because I think she's really cool. Of course, the 31st century has Dream Girl, but the 21st century doesn't really have a future seeing... I think she could be a very valuable asset to even the Justice League. Things happen, I'm not saying Wonder Woman needs a tarot reader or something, but I would love Nia to make appearances in other stuff. I think it'd be really cool. I think the new Teen Titans would also be really cool for her.

That would be awesome, especially since that's for kids, too.

Yeah, I think she's got really great potential as a character. I think she could have a really, really bright future.

Big Bads and big change

Definitely. Should we expect Lex to be the season 6 Big Bad, or might we get introduced to another major villain this season?

Well, that's the question, isn't it? Who is the Big Bad? Am I allowed to say? I don't know, but whoever the big bad is, be that Lex or somebody else, they are bringing new stakes that we have not yet had on our show. I think it forces each of the Super Friends to confront some stuff that they may or may not be ready to confront. For Nia, I think that means dealing with some stuff that's been hanging for a long time.

While Hollywood seems to be slowly changing, what are some changes that you'd like to see in terms of representation and actors, directors, and writers telling their own stories onscreen, instead of people who don't have the lived experience to tackle these critical subjects?

Yeah, so we've seen such a push for diverse casting and authentic casting, and that is brilliant. However, that needs to be met. It has to be met with the same push for diversity in the writers' room — because it doesn't matter how diverse your cast is if they're being written from only one point of view. 

By diversifying the writers' room, you are only helping yourself to tell a more interesting, more diverse story. Because if everyone in every writers' room looks exactly the same, then all of the stories are kind of going to be the same, and they're going to be from one point of view. Just the more diversity you have in the writers' room, the more lived experiences you have to pull from. It just creates a more interesting, diverse, imaginative world.

Owning the narrative

How does it feel to have been able to tell your own story with Dreamer?

It feels really good. It feels really good, and the same thing with this comic. It's been really, really nice to... Because I'm so protective over this character. I feel such an intense ownership over her, which I don't know it's entirely appropriate. 

Because I'm just the actor, at the same time, I feel like I originated her, and she kind of originated me. I feel forever connected to Dreamer and who she is. Getting to be able to tell her story and see people love her has been really, really spectacular. Getting to do that in a more hands-on approach in the comics has been really, really cool, and I can't wait for people to see that.

Are they going to be self-published, published online, or do you have a publisher?

For the eight-pager, for her eight-page debut, that is going to be in DC's Pride anthology in June. It's going to be this really great anthology series, a series of little mini-comics featuring DC's queer superheroes. Kate Kane has her own story, Ivy has her own story, and Harley Quinn, and Question and... Who else? Several others who I'm forgetting, and of course, Dreamer. 

These stories are going to tackle everything from coming out to just queerness in general. Dreamer's story is much less focused on her queerness, and it's much more focused on just celebrating having a trans superhero. What we've done is we've created a very quintessentially Dreamer classic superhero story that I really hope people love. Because I really love it, and I think it feels so classic superhero, classic Dreamer, and it's just a lot of fun.

Dreamweaving a canvas

Are you doing story and art for that? I've seen your digital art, and it's incredible.

Thank you very much. No, I'm not doing the art for that. The art is being done by Rachel Stott, who is incredible. She just sent me over sort of her first concepts and illustrations today, and I can not hype her up enough. She is spectacular, and she's doing a phenomenal job, and it is going to be beautiful. But the story and the writing are all me.

That's awesome.

It's been really, really, really fun to get to do that. I have tried several times to illustrate a comic, but my problem is consistency. If I draw a character twice, it will not look like the same character. I am incapable of drawing a character consistently. If I did the same drawings next week, all of those characters would look very, very different.

That's so funny. When you got the Dreamer gig, did you know that your character was amping up to be a superhero, or was it sort of a play as you go type of thing?

When I got it, I found out that she was going to be a superhero. But when I first started auditioning, I just knew she was going to be kind of a young Kara at CatCo.

I dreamed a dream

What was that revelation like?

I don't remember. I was tired and I'd just finished up a night shoot. Vampire movies are a lot of nights, so I was very tired, and my agents called me, and they told me, and I was like, "Mm-hmm, mm-hmm," and I went back to sleep. It didn't hit me for a long time, but seeing the suit get made and getting to do the scenes, and every time I see Dreamer getting a new power or a new moment in the scripts is just... I am over the moon every time. 

I'm like a little kid reading the scripts seeing Dreamer do a new thing. When I first saw that she was doing energy blasts, I lost my mind. Because I thought she was just going to be dreaming the future and everything, so it's kind of what Nura does. For Nia to kind of have her own thing, and have these gauntlets that Brainiac made her, and be able to do these lassos, and shields and blasts, it's so cool. It's so much fun to get to do.

So what can we do now?

You've been an incredible voice in the trans community. Would you like to talk about any of your current activism projects?

Yeah, so right now, I mean, most of my projects are really centered around Dreamer, which of course, is in itself a form of activism and visibility. But what I would like people to take away from this is to please be aware of all of these anti-trans bills that are being introduced in more than half of the country in Alabama, and in Arkansas, and in Montana. 

We have the bathroom bills, but we also have these new sports bills and trying to criminalize healthcare providers for helping trans kids transition. This is going to hurt trans people. This is going to kill trans people. Please be informed. Know what's going on in your state, contact your lawmakers, and tell them that trans lives are important and that needs to be protected and demand justice.


Fans can watch Dreamer slay every Tuesday night when Supergirl airs on the CW. Just don't let her catch you falling asleep.