Stargirl Season 3 continues in earnest. We’re about a third of the way through the season, meaning once-murky plot points and motivations are starting to reveal themselves. Showrunner Geoff Johns and company structure the story as a whodunit, allowing them to up their game and find new ways to surprise and enthrall viewers. As always, though, the show’s true brilliance shines from its complex, compassionate portrayals of both its heroes and villains.

One of Season 3’s most surprising arcs is Meg DeLacy’s turn as Cindy Burman/Shiv, a reformed mean girl later revealed to be the tormented daughter of Injustice Society member Dragon King. Throughout the first two seasons, DeLacy portrayed Cindy as a cruel, angry high schooler with more baggage than Frankenstein’s monster. Now, after a harrowing rescue from the Shadowlands, Cindy is determined to “break good.”

We caught up with DeLacy earlier this week to talk about Cindy, her struggle, and how occasional bits of improv altered the way the character was written. Check it out!

STARBURST: Let’s start by catching viewers up on what Cindy Burman is up to in Season 3.

Meg DeLacy: She kind of changes track a little bit and is trying to put away her villainous side. She’s trying to be a little more positive, little more good, trying to help out the greater good in Blue Valley and prove herself that she can be part of the JSA. That’s her mission, at least toward the beginning of this season.

One of the best things about how Cindy is written is that she goes in the direction of a person who really wants to be included and wants to be liked. The writers very easily could have played up the “Is she good or bad?” question but they don’t. They very purposefully portray her as good.

I do not think she’s focused on trying to make other people’s live a living hell anymore. I think she is trying to genuinely help and use her knowledge and her connections within the town. She’s a smart girl and I think that she sees her value. She wants to use it and she wants to use it well and share it with people. She’s not trying to cause trouble anymore but some people don’t seem to buy that.

She’s definitely trying to prove that she’s an asset. It’s as you said: she’s very smart, very connected, and she knows more about the ISA than a lot of the other characters. She’s definitely a window into how those villainous types think. This is more of a question than a comment but there’s a scene in one of the upcoming episodes where Cindy and one of the JSA members (no spoilers here!) clash. It has been building to it and made it clear that they don’t like each other. There’s not mutual trust there. There’s a moment where you see Cindy break down and she’s sad that no one seems to be there for her. It showcases how much pain she’s in.

100%. Cindy was painted as this very manipulative and cruel person, but there are reasons why a villain is a villain. So by finding the heart and underbelly of everything she says, the reasons why she does things, and remembering where she comes from, I’m able to find this soft spot in her. And only really show it in certain moments when her guard is down. This moment that you’re talking about…it lingers a little bit more because of her vulnerability, where she’s put herself now, and the fact that she’s being attacked by people who are supposed to be on the same team. They’re talking crap about her behind her back and she knows it. She’s not dumb. She can see the issue that’s arising. So it’s only a matter of time before this clash happens, especially due to the history behind this JSA member.

It was such a good, emotional scene. We really felt for Cindy.

Oh, thank you so much! I appreciate that. That was my whole goal. That means so much to me.

You mentioned earlier that you wanted to bring out this softness in Cindy. Was that always the plan for her character? How much say did you have when bringing this character to life? What was it like working so closely with Geoff Johns?

I almost feel like we kind of found it together. Toward the beginning of Season 1, all my little one-liners like, “That’s my boyfriend, bitch,” they were all very short, blunt jabs. She’s also a really good liar, so you’re often asking, “Is this for real?” Then when I read and asked questions about her backstory, such as who her dad is, where she comes from, what her goals were, it was easier for me to not play just your typical mean girl.

I feel like Geoff and I found it together. Even the writers would notice moments I’d sneak in here and there to show a little more heart and they’d lean into that. It was really fun to help guide but also do a pure collaboration.

The nature of her lies has changed, too. She’s no longer doing it out of malice. It’s now more of a self-preservation kind of thing. She’s guarding her secrets because she doesn’t know how her teammates are going to react. That’s really smart because she doesn’t really trust them either. From her perspective, she shouldn’t.

No, she shouldn’t. She really wants to. I think Courtney’s probably the closest one she does trust because of what they went through in Season 2 in the Shadowlands. That’s her whole goal, to keep her own personal issues under wraps. At least for now. She really, truly doesn’t know what’s happening. She’s feeling it happen. She has ideas about where she can find more information and get help, which is what she starts to do. It gets her in trouble and creates more suspicion around her motives.

One of the most beautiful things about Stargirl as a series is its theme that the way we treat each other matters. Every character interacts with this theme in a specific way. How do you feel Cindy interacts with this idea?

I think that claim has become way more important to her now more than ever. She remembers how she’s been treated, not only currently but in her past. It scarred her, being treated like a science experiment instead of a daughter. That really broke her. It caused a struggle with her having trust in the world and having any kind of faith in general. So bringing that in and applying that now toward the way she’s treating people and how that may create warmness in her soul is important. She doesn’t want to be treated like crap anymore. Courtney has been one of the only people who has given her the benefit of the doubt. She doesn’t want to squander that or take advantage. But also, she does want to take advantage a bit…in a positive way!

STARGIRL Season 3 is currently screening on The CW in the US.

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