Queen Latifah's The Equalizer Delivers The Justice Today's World Craves

Robyn McCall equalizes the playing field starting Sunday, Feb. 7 immediately following Super Bowl LV on CBS.
Posted on Jan 27, 2021 | 02:30pm
Viewers of the upcoming CBS series The Equalizer, which premieres directly after Super Bowl LV on Feb. 7, have a lot to look forward to. And more than just the action-packed fight sequences one might expect from the show, which stars Queen Latifah as the first female Equalizer, Robyn McCall.

On Wednesday, Jan. 27, during a virtual panel hosted by the Television Critics Association, Executive Producer and star Latifah was joined by Co-Creators and Executive Producers Andrew W. Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller, and Executive Producer Debra Martin Chase. They delved into the importance of what Robyn McCall brings to the role of the Equalizer as a Black woman and why a new Equalizer is especially relevant today.

READ: How To Watch The Premiere Of The Equalizer After Super Bowl LV

Production on the pilot episode was set to begin almost a year ago just as filming everywhere shut down due to COVID-19. Latifah emphasized that while they had no idea how the world would change in the intervening time, former CIA operative Robyn McCall and her mission to help the overlooked and under-serviced people of our society feels especially appropriate for the times.

"People she couldn’t save are what makes her lose sleep," Latifah explained. "We’re in a time where that makes a lot of people lose sleep. She doesn’t want to equalize for billionaires or countries who play chess with people. That’s an important space to sit in at this time. It seemed to be perfect timing for this show."

In addition to fighting for justice, Robyn is also a mother and lives with her daughter Delilah (Laya DeLeon Hayes) and her aunt, Viola "Aunt Vi" Marsette (Lorraine Toussaint). That aspect of her life will play a key role in the new series, with each of the three women's experiences as Black women in America influencing the 13 episodes' storylines and providing a richer emotional world for Robyn.

"The characters we have surrounding her, all of them have something to do with her process and how she got to become the Equalizer," Miller explained. "She carries with her all of the experiences that she’s had in her life."

Robyn "has to figure out how to turn off the soldier and turn on the mom," Latifah added, noting the significance of Robyn's duality as both a single mother and covert justice-seeker.

Fighting, and the accompanying choreography, for Latifah, is a big part of the series, of course. Latifah pointed out that Robyn's reasons for fighting are what makes the sequences and choreography so impactful.

"It’s not just fighting for the sake of fighting, it’s ‘why is she fighting,’" she said. "She’s fighting because someone did something wrong, she’s fighting because someone did something unjust, she’s fighting to protect someone…and that’s how I was raised."

The Equalizer is based on the 1985 TV series of the same name—later re-imagined in two films starring Denzel Washington—and was co-created by Richard Lindheim. Lindheim also served as an Executive Producer on the new series and sadly passed away on Jan. 18. Latifah and Lindheim pitched the new series together, and she remembered him as a "sweetheart of a man." Martin Chase added that Lindheim was able to see the pilot episode before his passing and bestowed his enthusiasm for it.

As for the series premiere's post-Super Bowl timeslot, Latifah shared that it gave the series' crew, who has been working hard in the midst of unusual conditions, a "great boost." While Latifah said that she quit football when she was young, she played power forward in her basketball days.

Latifah's time playing hoops taught her the importance of the team mentality, she said, an idea reflected in the ensemble crew of The Equalizer which includes Chris Noth as William Bishop, Tory Kittles as Det. Marcus Dante, Adam Goldberg as Harry Keshegian, and Liza Lapira as Melody Bayani.

"You don’t win by yourself, you don’t win alone, you have to work with people," she said. Further proof that the series is sure to find relevancy with today's audience.

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Watch the series premiere of The Equalizer on Sunday, Feb. 7, immediately following Super Bowl LV, and watch the second episode when it airs in its normal timeslot of Sundays at 8/7c on Feb. 14.