If it feels like a new element of the DC Comics universe is introduced to Supergirl, that’s because there usually is. The show might have a smaller budget at The CW, but that’s not stopping Greg Berlanti, Andrew Kreisberg and the other producers from continuing to build the world of Supergirl. The October 31 episode, “Survivors,” introduced M’gann M’orzz, better known as Miss Martian. She is played by Sharon Leal.
Leal made her debut in the episode “Welcome to Earth,” which ended with J’onn J’onzz/Martian Manhunter (David Harewood) meeting her at a bar where other aliens hang out in National City. We will learn how J’onn will deal with the news of another Martian on earth, especially since he was convinced that there were no more Green Martians. But is M’gann really a Green Martian? The answer is no.
In “The Darkest Places,” M’gann revealed to J’onn that she was a White Martian, although she pleaded with other White Martians not to kill his family. She also gave J’onn some of her blood to save him, but it will slowly turn him into a White Martian.
Here’s a look at the character and Leal’s career.
1. M’gann Was Introduced in 2006 & Played a Major Role in ‘Young Justice’
While many of the characters used on Supergirl are decades old, M’gann M’orzz was only introduced in 2006. The character was created by Geoff Johns and Tony S. Daniel, making her debut in Teen Titans Vol. 3 #37.
When M’gann arrived on Earth, she introduced herself to J’onn J’onzz and the other superheroes as a fellow Green Martian who had escaped Mars during the civil war between Green and White Martians. However, it was eventually revealed that she was a White Martian and had disguised herself as a Green Martian because of the stigma against White Martians as a barbaric race only interested in war. Before learning her true identity, she was a member of the Teen Titans and took the name “Megan Morse” as a high school student.
M’gann was a major character in the short-lived – but acclaimed – animated series Young Justice (2010-2013). That series only ran two seasons and is available on Netflix.
As we saw in “Survivors,” the Supergirl team is following M’gann’s comic book roots fairly closely, as it was revealed at the end of the episode that she is indeed a White Martian. However, the show’s version of the character is older and much more independent. She doesn’t want the family relationship with J’onn that was in the comics.
2. Leal’s Musical Background Will Prove Helpful in the Flash/Supergirl Musical Crossover
One reason for Leal’s casting in the role might be her musical background. Leal starred in Dreamgirls as Michelle Morris, the singer who replaces Jennifer Hudson’s Effie White character. She was also a replacement in the original Broadway cast for Rent and performed on the national tour. She also appeared on the original 1999 cast recording of Bright Lights, Big City with Jesse L. Martin, who stars on The Flash.
While will her musical talents be needed on a comic book show? Because Berlanti told reporters in August that he is plotting another crossover with The Flash that will be a musical episode. The Flash star Grant Gustin and Martin, along with Supergirl‘s Melissa Benoist and Jeremy Jordan, all have musical backgrounds.
“Some of you may know my own personal love of musicals and actors who have been in them, and we have a number of people who can sing across all the shows who will be making some very exciting appearances in the back half of the year,” Berlanti told the media. He added that he wants to take advantage of his casts’ full range of talents and they are still trying to figure out who will be the villain in the two-parter.
This will be a different crossover than the one in December, which will also involve Arrow and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
3. Leal’s Father Was a Military Policeman in the Philippines Who Broke up With Her Mother Before She was Born
Leal’s early life was full of change. As People reported in 2002, her father was a military policeman in the Philippines. He broke up with Leal’s mother, Angelita, before she was born. Angelita married Jesse Leal, an Air Force sergeant, but they divorced when Leal was 7.
Leal is half-Filipino, half-Black. In a 2012 BET interview, Leal said that some people can tell that she’s biracial, but others can’t. She explained:
I think it’s interesting. It’s funny because some people know it right away. They’ll say, “Something else is going on there and it’s Asian. I don’t know where in Asia, but something’s happening.” But other people don’t see it at all. I think when you look at me it’s glaringly obvious that I’m Black and for some reason Asian doesn’t exactly scream out at you. And I definitely identify with my African-American side more. That’s how people perceive me and I’m fine with that.
She said that since her first professional acting gig – starring in Miss Saigon on Broadway – she hasn’t played an Asian role. When she auditioned for Miss Saigon, the Tuscon, Arizona native said she was sure she wouldn’t get a role because no one would believe that she is Asian. As she told BET:
So I pulled my hair back very tight, I didn’t wear any make up and I kept thinking they were gonna say, “Oh honey, you’re not Asian and you need to go home.” But I did book that job and that was the only role I’ve done where I’m actually depicting that part of who I am.
Leal has been married to Bev Land since 2011. They have a son, Kai.
4. Leal Started Her TV Career on ‘Guiding Light’ & Starred on ‘Boston Legal’
Leal should be a familiar face for TV viewers. She’s been working in television since 1996, making her debut on the soap opera Guiding Light. She played Dahlia Crede in over 200 episodes from 1996 to 1999 and also appeared on Legacy from 1998 to 1999.
In 2000, she was cast as Marilyn Sudor on Boston Public, a high school drama created by David E. Kelly that ran until 2004. After that show ended, Leal had a role in <i.LAX and Las Vegas before she nabbed a part in Dreamgirls. That was followed by roles in Why Did I Get Married?, This Christmas and Soul Men.
More recently, Leal starred on Grimm as Zuri Ellis and played Charlotte Graham on Recovery Road. In 2013, she headlined a pilot called Guilty that co-starred Cuba Gooding Jr. and was produced by Berlanti.
In an interview with Broadway World, Leal said that she tries her best to show all of her talents in every role.
In everything I try to do, there’s an element from the other spectrum involved – so, that’s always really exciting for me to explore. You know, as an actor, it’s really all about diversity, anyway – it’s about: “How versatile are you, really? How much do you bring to the table?” So, it used to be about being a straight actor or a musical actor or whatever, but now, you know, it’s like, with casting directors and people, “Oh, you sing? Oh, you dance? Oh, that’s so great! We have a perfect project for you, actually, then.”
5. Miss Martian Will Help J’onn Begin to Embrace Being the Martian Manhunter
Although J’onn revealed himself to the world as the Martian Manhunter late in season one, he still has been reluctant to be himself. Part of that could be explained by the Supergirl team saving money so they don’t have to dress actor David Harewood in green every week, but it’s also because the character has been Hank Henshaw for so long that he doesn’t feel comfortable as a Martian any longer.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, executive producer Andrew Kreisberg said that Miss Martian will help him embrace his Martian side again.
“J’onn is suddenly going to have this connection to Mars that he’s been lacking for the last 300 years,” Kreisberg told EW. “He’s dealing with survivor’s guilt, and he’s spent the last few hundred years burying that. It’s only because of his interactions with Kara and his deepening relationship with Alex that he gets to start to tap back into that. The arrival of Miss Martian is really going to open the flood gates.”
New episodes of Supergirl air on Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW.