The “Legends of Tomorrow” Star Opens Up About the True Meaning of Girl Power
Written By: Jordan Ligons
Photographed By: Nick Isabella
Photography Assistant: Fiona Buckley
Styled By: Johnny Chavez
Hair & Makeup By: Lisa Leedy Caity Lotz
Caity Lotz plays an ass-kicking superhero on TV and plays the role of an ass-kicking human in life. The San Diego-native oozes strength, superstardom, political opinions, and girl power. “I used to think that at some point I’d have to get a real job,” Lotz laughs. “But I’m starting to feel like I might not have to.”
You might have seen Lotz jump kicking bad guys or Japanese sword fighting in “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” on the CW, where she plays Sara Lance (aka White Canary) in the action-packed superhero network phenomenon. The show follows an eclectic group of heroes and villains that go back in pivotal points in history to save Earth from a future apocalypse.
Lotz has vowed to always follow the excitement in her life. She dabbled in painting, photography, martial arts, and dance—that one was a heavy one, she says.
Dancers came to perform at her elementary school and a spark lit a new flame. “I want to do that,” Lotz said to her mom at age seven. This spark grew once she started taking classes and became inspired by a certain dance teacher. Lotz says that Tiffani Francy King was more than just a dance instructor. She was her babysitter, her ride to nerve-wracking auditions in LA, her confidant, her mentor. “She really believed in me,” Lotz said.
When King first started teaching Lotz, she was teaching jazz, lyrical, and technique, and Lotz signed up for every class which equalled crazy amount of hours in the dance studio together. “I always had to leave a little extra time after her lesson to allow for the inevitable time it took for her to feel like she got it just right,” King said of one of the most driven students that she’d ever taught. “I think what also made it so special is that she didn’t always do it for the win or for that first place, she did it for the challenge.”
King goes on to say that Lotz was a role model to other students, a true standout, and someone she calls her adopted sister. “I think especially in this day and age it is extremely important for young women to have a positive mentor,” King said. “You should always have someone in your corner that you trust who is there to remind you what you’re made of, where you come from and that you can do anything you put your mind to that you are willing to work for.”
Still, with all this love for dance brewing inside her and with a teacher-friend in her corner, she didn’t know at the time that being a professional dancer was, like, a thing. Then at 17, Lotz got serious, got an agent, and the industry got serious about her too. She earned a cameo alongside singer JoJo in her catchy “Baby It’s You” music video (yes, fully equipped with cringe-worthy early 2000s fashions). At 19, with no prior visits to Europe and not able to speak a lick of German, Lotz found herself in Berlin, Germany apart of the pop sensation Soccx, an American girl group that toured the country for two years. Their hits “From Dusk Till Dawn (Get the Party Started)” and “Scream Out Loud” made Germany’s top 10 charts in 2006 and 2007.
But then, that spark fizzled out. Coming back from the music escapades of singing and dancing in the limelight and touring with standouts like Lady Gaga and Avril Lavigne just wasn’t doing it anymore. “I was on tour with Avril Lavigne with arenas full of people and I wasn’t nervous. I wasn’t excited,” Lotz said. “So then I was like, ‘Okay, time for something new.’ I wanted to get scared again.”
Her newfound love became acting. After finishing a two-year program at the Sanford Meisner Center in Los Angeles with Alex Taylor, “Mad Men” happened. Landing the role of Stephanie, Don Draper’s niece, put the verified stamp on her career as an actor. “It really set the tone,” she said.
Quickly succeeding this big break came a role in MTV’s mockumentary “Death Valley,” and lead roles in The Pact, The Pact II, and The Machine. Then a small role in CW’s smash “Arrow,” already in its second season, is what Lotz called a life-changing opportunity. Not her, not anyone on staff knew what would become of Sara Lance/The Canary character, and now CW’s newest hit “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” just got picked up for season three.
Lotz wanted to make it clear that she didn’t become an overnight success. She said her strongest attribute is her drive; her work ethic. For dance, Lotz said when she first started she had “white girl” rhythm. It took hours in her parents’ garage working on each move, each step until it reached perfection. “I don’t think I was necessarily born naturally good at something, but I would work really hard at getting good,” Lotz said. “I didn’t mind putting in the work.”
Another passion that she has up her sleeve is politics. She doesn’t hold back on her Twitter feed or to her passionate 1.1 million followers on Instagram about what she believes and what she thinks is right.
“If I wasn’t an actor, I’d love to be a politician,” Lotz said. “It is somewhere that you can really create change.” She has always been attracted to youth leaders around the world utilizing social media to start movements and have a voice. In late January, Lotz participated in the Women’s March on Washington via Vancouver, Columbia. She posted an Instagram PSA writing, “March with us for women, for men, for #lgbt rights, and love.”
“Looking at Trump’s presidency, if we can pull something positive from it, it’s that anyone can be president,” Lotz said. Her Twitter feed showcases that point exactly. In her 140 characters or less, Lotz encourages young people to get involved, starting now: “The next woman president is out there and it could be you,” she tweets.
Aside from social media, Lotz has hopes of addressing this message to young girls in a new, personal way. At comic book conventions, like the mega San Diego Comic-Con that happens every July in downtown, Lotz has a plan to create not only an online community, but also host mini-seminars and workshops for women and girls at each of these comic-focused events discussing topics like self-acceptance, self-love, and self-empowerment.
“[Those are] the things I dealt with and I see so many young girls wasting years of their life feeling bad about who they are. There is a lot of pressure put on girls, mostly through the media, that they are not pretty enough, skinny enough, or their skin is too white or too dark,” says Lotz. “We need to take our power back, and understand that we choose how we feel about ourselves. It takes work to build self-esteem but it’s so worth it, and the sooner the better.”
The spine of this program is girls helping girls. She goes on to say that too often the narrative is girls being pinned against each other. Her theory to why that is stems from lack of space for women to flourish.
While doing a scene on “Legends,” she paused and looked around her. Majority of her co-stars are male, matching the male-dominant crew. “Women have been taught to compete against each other because there are only like one or two slots,” she says. Lotz compared that scene to one rare instance where there were four women with her on camera with a female Assistant Director behind the camera: “It felt completely different. I felt really at ease.”
She makes a point that this superhero-driven genre has been traditionally male-dominated. But, it’s changing.
Sara Lance/White Canary is not just the damsel in distress, not just the love interest, and all of her lines aren’t revolved around men. She’s powerful, complicated, and interesting. Lotz has had fans, and mothers of fans, approach her with a sense of thankfulness that there is a character like Sara for them to look up to and aspire to be.
Lance also resonates with another group that the comic book world hadn’t yet tapped into—the LGBTQ community. “I think one of the coolest parts about Sara is her sexuality,” Lotz said.
Originally she thought she was going to get more backlash about her character being bisexual, but fans in the community have shown much appreciation being represented on TV. “They see Sara and it normalizes it,” Lotz says about her on-screen character. “And it normalizes it, not just for them, but for everybody else.”
A fan worded it best, in Lotz’s eyes, saying that Sara’s character shows that sexuality can be fluid and not just a linear label, earning a retweet to Lotz’s over 330K Twitter followers.
Mary Lotz, Caity’s mother, says that, in comparison to Sara Lance’s powerful and strong role, that Caity and her are very similar. “She’s always been that way. If someone was picking on someone, she’d stand up for that person,” she said. “She’s always been the protector.”
She went on to say that she and her husband are slowly starting to get used to seeing their daughter on the big screen: “The first time I ever saw her get killed [in the film The Pact II], it devastated me. I had to keep reminding myself that it’s just a movie, it’s not her…Then I was like, ‘Who do I beat up?’” she said clenching her fists. We no longer have to wonder where that ‘protector’ side of Caity comes from. “But we still do shriek every time we see her name.”
Growing up, Mary said that Caity was a tomboy, an old soul, and very independent. On her first day of kindergarten, she says that after she walked Caity into her classroom, she motioned her mom away and said, “Okay, you can go now.” Regardless, Mary said that she’s her biggest fan. When Caity would dance, her mom explained how she had that “it factor;” she shined while on stage. “I went to every dance performance,” she said. “I just loved watching her.”
As for acting, Mary said that it surprised her how easily Caity fell into going on TV and being on camera…and being funny. “I didn’t know she was that funny,” she laughs. “She blossomed.”
Mary continued to gush about how proud she was of her daughter’s successes and raved about how passionate she is about everything she does. “She’s a good kid,” she smirks. “I’ll keep her.”
Yeah, we will too. Caity Lotz plays a character that arguably has the best hand-to-hand combat skills in the superhero-genre game right now. Lance, like Lotz, stands firm in her beliefs, is quick-witted, and has an unmatched work ethic. She emcompasses girl power, as King reminds us. “It’s important to remind each other as women that we are strong, fierce and a force to be reckoned with and to concentrate on having each others backs instead of letting insecurities tear us down,” King said. Yes, Lotz can show you up by busting a dance move or by using a bo staff inspired by Filipino martial arts, but, her greatest power? Being a woman.
SD Girl at Heart: Caity grew up near Carmel Mountain area and whenever she comes back to SD, she has to snag a burrito from Sombrero Mexican Food. She refers to the lyrics of Blink 182’s song “Josie” as her muse.
Coming Up Next: Caity Lotz is set to feature in the upcoming thriller Small Town Crime starring alongside Academy Award Nominee John Hawkes, Academy Award Winner Octavia Spencer, and ABC’s “Black-ish” star Anthony Anderson. See the premiere at the South By Southwest Festival March 10-19 in Austin, Texas.
Notable Places You’ve Seen Lotz in Action
Lady Gaga’s “Paparazzi” Music Video
“Death Valley” (2011)
The Pact (2012)
“Mad Men” (2010)
The Machine (2013)
“DC’s Legends of Tomorrow” (2016)
Stuntin’ Like Caity: Lotz does her own stunts for “Legends.” Sometimes it consists of two straight days of fighting, filming until 4 a.m., and occasional body aches. But, all in all, it’s fun, she says. “It itches that dance side of me,” she continues. “It’s movement, it’s art, it’s performance.”
Get Your Zen On: Lotz has started meditating 20 minutes per day, twice a day to help build her mental toughness. “I find that my biggest foe is the mind. [Meditating] is helping me to try to control my thoughts and not get overwhelmed,” she says.
San Diego-Native Caity Lotz is Pretty Badass