To put it bluntly, Candice Patton is a voice that the television and film industry needs to listen to. Patton's career moves have always been fueled by an unwavering commitment to amplifying diversity and inclusivity in front of and behind the camera. A prime example is The Flash. Playing Iris West-Allen in the series, Patton has shattered the dated idea of what a comic book character should look like. In the past, the DC Universe character was depicted as a white woman. But Patton's casting in the series has reimagined Iris as a Black woman, providing viewers who look like her a chance to see themselves in this television category. "I'm proud that I've been able to be a part of this race-bending casting, especially in this genre, because I feel like it's opened the doors for so much more of that," Patton says of her time on the show.
When I signed on to a Zoom call with Patton, she was nestled at home with her adorable and Instagram-famous Maltipoo Zoë. During the pandemic, Texas-raised Patton has been residing in Canada to film the seventh season of The Flash (which will premiere on March 2). Expectedly, being sequestered from loved ones for months on end due to Canadian border restrictions has proved challenging on all fronts for Patton. During our conversation, she opened up about the little things that have boosted her spirits during this time, her on-set beauty must-haves, and the impact she hopes to have on the industry. Ahead, find Patton's honest thoughts on it all.
How have you been doing over the last year?
Honestly, terribly. It's just not an easy time for anybody. If I'm honest about it, it's just been a hard time. I'm in another country shooting a show, and I'm away from my family, and I can't go home because of the border being closed off. I can't see my mom, my dad, my friends, or my family, so I'm just kind of like stuck isolated in another country. I'm just trying to survive a pandemic, which I think most people are struggling with. So, it's been hard, but you know, I just put one foot in front of the other every day.
I think it's really important that you're radically honest about how this time has affected you.
Yeah, and I try not to dwell on it too much publicly because I know there are a lot of people who have it way worse off than I do. So I don't enjoy speaking about it. I know a lot of people think like "Oh, you must be fine. You make money, you're on a TV show, and you're in another country where the numbers aren't as bad." All of those things are true, and I'm really grateful for those things. But mentally, I think it's it's hard on everybody, no matter what standing you have in life. It's just a hard time for everybody.
I completely agree. One of the positive things about you being there to film this show is you have been able to promote diversity and inclusivity in the industry. What has it meant to be able to play the role of Iris?
It's been an interesting journey. At first, it was really hard. I think we were doing it at a time where it wasn't cool or being done very often. So there was a lot of pushback, which was hard for me to navigate through. But when I look back on it, I'm proud that I've been able to be a part of this race-bending casting, especially in this genre, because I feel like it's opened the doors for so much more of that. I feel if fans have connected with that, connected with the character, and have enjoyed my time on the show, I'm grateful to have been a part of it.
What do you want equity and inclusion in the industry to look like in the future?
I talk a lot about advocating for more representation behind the camera. I think we're doing a great job of putting people in front of the camera that are diverse. But, it really means nothing if those people are not supported behind the scenes—if they don't have people who know how to do their hair and makeup, people who know how to write for them, directors who understand what they're going through. It's not enough to just put someone in front of the camera that looks a certain way. It's about supporting them, protecting them, and allowing them the space to do the best work possible.
Whether you're on set or off-camera, you're always wearing really stunning beauty looks. Are there any makeup products that you love?
I've gone through a lot of different foundations while working on the show. I've been trying to figure out what I like best for my skin on camera. For the last two seasons, we've settled on Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation ($43), which is kind of a hidden gem, but they have amazing reviews for a reason. It gives you a skin-like finish. I'm a person that typically hates dewy, melted-looking skin. It just looks like I've been in a club, and my makeup is sweating off. So I've always liked a very matte foundation. I was playing around with Fenty, which I actually really do like, but it was just so matte on camera that it looked stiff. So, we were looking for something that could bring back fluidity to the skin on camera, look natural, and still have that matte finish. For me, the Double Wear Foundation has been a personal favorite on and off the show.
Are there any products that are essential in your haircare routine?
I'm always changing it. For hair, it depends on if I'm doing my hair straight or curly. But right now, I'm trying a company called Virtue, which I really like. They sent me their styling mousse, and it does a really good job of defining my curls without making them hard, crunchy, or overstyled. I've also been trying Pattern, which I'm really enjoying. But, my go-to is Kevin Murphy's Smoothing Conditioner ($34). It's the yellow bottle. I don't know what is in that bottle, but I find their shampoo and conditioner to be the most moisturizing for curly hair. I put it on my hair, and it just slicks through. That's probably my OG favorite, but I love trying new products just to see what will work best on my curly hair.
What does your skincare routine consist of?
I've always been into skincare and trying new stuff. We use these tools that look like light bulbs [on set]. You put them in the freezer and roll them around your eyes. So I keep them in my freezer here. When I have really early calls, I just roll them around my eyes. It's something I never needed before until you all of a sudden wake-up and you're old and you realize that your eyes are puffy. I've started to do a lot of facial massaging with jade rollers. I bought these suction cups on Amazon to get the blood flowing back in my face. We work so early, and my face often doesn't have time to catch up and depuff.
Who is a Black woman that has inspired you beauty-wise?
Well, I immediately think of Tracee Ellis Ross. I love following her on Instagram. I think she's just so so beautiful in the purest way. There's just something about her skin, her body, and her hair. Everything about her feels natural and organic. When I look at her photos, you can just really see her natural inner beauty shining through. She's never trying to cover or hide her features or who she is. There's just an acceptance of her natural beauty that I think a lot of people resonate with. I know I do.
What has self-care looked like for you these days?
Yeah, that's really hard. I've kind of lost my way in doing that, and I'm trying to get back to focusing on that because I'm slowly losing my mind. But they have a lot of foot massage places here. You can just sit in a chair and get your feet massaged for an hour. I can still be on my phone, get work done, or read a script. It's just a nice way to treat myself. I bought myself a plant the other day. I realized the importance of going after things that are beautiful and trying to find beauty in my life with simple things like plants and nature.
I think that's a beautiful form of self-care. Do you have any advice for aspiring actors and actresses?
Yeah, I have a lot of advice. But I guess one thing would be to really know who you are. I think it's important in an industry like the one I'm in to know who and what you're about before you get into it. You can get a lot of messages from a lot of different people and a lot of the wrong people. You can lose your way if you're not careful. I know it sounds so corny to say stay true to who you are, but it's really important. I've tried to focus on that for most of my career and just remind myself what's important to me. I'm glad I've done it because I can go home at night with a good head on my shoulders and feel good about the person that I am. So, just be very clear about who you are, what you're willing to do, what you're not willing to do while carving out a career for yourself.
What do you want your legacy to be in this industry?
I want to be remembered as someone who spoke up and spoke about things that were important to me, even when I wasn't sure of what the consequences would be. I am constantly fighting for evolution in the industry as it pertains to minorities, especially women of color because that's who I am. I hope to be remembered as someone who was passionate about changing the industry for women of color.