Following the announcement that the CW’s “Black Lightning” would not be returning after its fourth and final season, series star China Anne McClain revealed that she had planned on exiting the show before its cancellation.
In an emotional Instagram post, McClain explained on video that she had learned the news of the cancellation when the news was made public.
“What I did know and have known along with the rest of the cast since before we even started shooting this season is that I am leaving the show and was leaving the show,” she said. “This was going to be my last season, regardless of if it went on or not. For different reasons, that, to be honest, I don’t want to go into. I just want y’all to trust me on it.”
McClain explained that she was only set to feature in a few of the new episodes once season four airs on Feb. 8. She indicated that the chaotic state of the world had initiated in her a sort of epiphany about her industry, a realization that Hollywood and its trappings were ultimately insignificant and shallow.
“There’s been a lot to happen over this quarantine, and I’m not talking about the PC side of it,” she said. “These things are real. These people that are dying and the way of the world now. It’s real. And all this is an illusion. It’s an illusion. This industry for what it is and everything that people look to and praise, it’s not important.”
“God is moving me, in more than one way than just this show,” she added. “It’s bigger than this show. I’m doing God’s work now, and I’m not doing anything else.”
McClain made a point to emphasize that she wasn’t leaving “Black Lightning” because of backstage conflict, either with coworkers or the production company itself.
“I’m not leaving because I had a terrible time working at the CW,” she said, fighting back tears. “I like the CW. I like [CW network president] Mark Pedowitz, I like [Warner Bros. president] Peter Roth, [executive producer] Greg Berlanti, I love [showrunner] Salim [Akil], I always will. He gets it. And people that actually know me… they know why I make the decisions that I make. They also know that I never make a single one of ’em to hurt anyone or affect anybody negatively. But I am doing God’s work now, and that is all I’m doing … I have not played the game well, when it comes to the standards of this industry.” She credited God for being where she is at this point in her life.
“I’m not crying because I regret leaving,” McClain said. She implied that there were other things behind her decision and the show’s announcement that had made her so emotional.
McClain apologized for the suddenness of the announcement, but alluded to a shift internally that had deeply affected her psyche.
“Just know that things are changing,” she said. “Things are different now. It’s not about this industry. All of these things that people think are so important, it’s not about those things … I don’t know why I was wasting time before,” she said tearfully.
McClain thanked the show’s crew and acknowledged Akil and costar Jordan Calloway, who have a spinoff, “Painkiller,” set to air on the network.
“Congratulations to Salim and Jordan, who just got a spinoff. Please support him in that. God did that for him and he’s going to do great; I know it,” McClain said.
“I’ve learned a lot on this show, and I’m grateful for it.”
McClain explained that she had also decided to form her own production company, and the reasoning behind it was not to start “making moves.”
About her future projects, “I’m creating things now for y’all that’s not to get a check. I’ve never made decisions based off of money. It’s to teach y’all something, or to show you new avenues that entertainment doesn’t show you right now,” she continued, adding that, “We need the spirit again in these projects. I don’t know where it’s gone.”
McClain indicated that she had entered a new chapter in her life, adding, “I’m ready for change. I’m ready for things to change. And I want to help … If I’m not currently really a part of it, not just kind of sitting in one place, but helping push it forward, I don’t know what I’m doing here.”