Candice Patton: The Flash Actress Talks About Portraying Iris West & Shethority
Candice Patton always knew she wanted to be a part of the entertainment industry. As a child, she watched I Love Lucy every single night; the show was her favorite, and Lucille Ball became her idol. “I fell in love with her and what she was doing,” says Candice. “Her ability to make people laugh —make me laugh— I just knew immediately, at a young age, watching her, that I wanted to do whatever it was she was doing. She was a big creative inspiration for me.”
Candice’s father worked in the FBI, and while that piqued her interest, she always went back to acting. “For a while, I did consider the FBI or CIA… because I may get to be a spy and pretend to be other people,” she says. Candice quickly realized that there are less dangerous ways to explore other characters. “Everything that I toyed with outside of acting—which was very little—had to do with being an actor. Acting has always been the thing I’ve had my eye on since a young age.” Acting was Candice’s passion, and she was determined to make it happen. “Not everyone has the luxury of knowing what they want to do when they are young. So, when you do know, you should cherish that and do everything you can with it.”
Now 31 years old, Candice portrays Iris West on The CW’s The Flash. The show is currently on its sixth season, with episode ten premiering on February 4th. Over the last six years, Candice has developed her character. “We will see a duality in Iris,” Candice says of what we can expect in the back half of the season. “There is a lot coming for her. She is a big part of the second half villain of season six. She is very much tied into that, so we’re going to see her a lot, her investigative side, her team at The Citizen,” she explains. “You see Grant [Gustin, who portrays Barry Allen/The Flash] develop more. We’re constantly out trying to solve this big mystery—it’s a lot of good stuff for Iris.”
The Flash has been incredibly successful worldwide —the type of success that Candice once only dreamed of. “When you shoot a pilot, you always have in the back of your head that this might go nowhere. You don’t want to get too excited,” she says. And though Candice knew the show had potential, she never predicted this level of success. “Every year, when we got into filming season one and season two, the producer kept saying, ‘You can buy a house in Vancouver, you’re going to be here for a while’ —I didn’t believe him. Every year, I thought I would be moving back to L.A. and starting all over again.”
Landing the role of Iris was Candice’s second big win. While she was in college at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, she entered a nationwide audition contest and won a role in The Young and the Restless. This was the start of her acting career. She flew to Los Angeles to film a couple of episodes. After filming was finished, she returned to Dallas to complete her degree in theater. As soon as Candice obtained her degree, she returned to L.A. to act. She booked supporting roles on a list of popular television shows, including, Entourage, Heroes, One Tree Hill, Grey’s Anatomy, and CSI: Miami. In 2013, she found a more permanent home on BET’s The Game.
Candice was no stranger to the auditioning process when she read for the role of Iris. “I had seen an episode or two of Arrow, and I thought it was a cool reintroduction to comics on TV,” she says. While she’s gone on her fair share of auditions, Candice confesses that it’s normal to still get nervous and feel awkward doing them. “I think, for me, the biggest nerves that I have are surrounded by performing well — doing it as good as I did it in front of my mirror. When you walk into a room, there are all these things that come up —seeing all these actors in the waiting room, more famous actors, and expecting five people in the room and seeing seven. There are a lot of things that can rattle you and throw you off and defocus you from the work that you were doing when you were at home.”
Because Candice didn’t immediately receive a callback, she assumed she didn’t get the job. A month later, she was invited back to do another take. This time around, it only took two days for her to hear back —she landed the role. “It’s a weird range of emotions,” says Candice, who quickly relocated to Vancouver to begin shooting the pilot.
With filming taking place in Vancouver, Candice often feels isolated from the world, making it easy for her to forget that what she does on set daily has a global reach. “It’s crazy… sometimes I forget that. We shoot the show in this bubble in Vancouver, away from the world, away from our families and our friends. To me, it feels like I’m just going to my job every day, and I forget the impact that it has. It goes out into the world and people view it and consume it and it changes their lives. It’s a part of who they are. It’s important for me to remember that, because I don’t how many jobs I’ll have in my career that will have that sort of impact. I’m really lucky,” says Candice.
Candice’s character Iris has impacted and inspired women all over the world. Tough and sassy, Candice is like Iris in some ways. “We both have a lot of fortitude and desire to keep pushing. She is always pushing for a story or a clue. I’m dogged in the same way in my life, in my career about going after things,” she says. “We both say what we need to say in order to get what we need done.” Candice shares that Iris is a little more romantic and optimistic than she is. “Iris believes in Barry. I’m a little more human —sometimes I don’t always see optimism in a situation, but she always does.”
Candice has learned a few things from Iris over the years. “I respect her tenacity, her ability to fight for what’s right, no matter what. She is also human, one of the few humans on the show that we see. We never see her not having powers get in the way of helping. That’s a big lesson I’ve learned in my life, that it doesn’t matter how much access or money you have, if you want to help and do good, you should, and you do have the ability to do it.” Iris doesn’t normally have powers, but there is one episode where she does—and it was a whole new experience for Candice. “A lot of more exterior night shoots that I’m not used to,” she chuckles. “It was really fun, one of the funnest times I’ve had on the show because there was so much action and so much to do.”
Candice has built her career mostly in television, and is no stranger to the pace of a television show. “Time is money so much on a television show. You have to get it because it’s airing in one month. There is a tighter timeline with television, especially when shooting. As an actor, you don’t spend as much time dissecting a character on set, you have to do all of that at home in your free time… There is something about film, when you are really taking your time and exploring every caveat of the story, you are discussing it with the director, getting into it with the other actors about what this scene means. It’s just a little more hands-on and artistic. You can have those moments on television, but when you are shooting 22 episodes a season, it’s a different machine.” Candice would like to explore film more. “I’m looking forward to doing more slower-pace, film-type work,” she says. “My instinct is to do something different.”
Being a part of the superhero world on television has allowed Candice to connect personally with fans at Comic-Con, and connect with fellow actors who find themselves in the same place she’s in. It was a conversation with Caity Lotz from Legends that brought Shethority to life. The two found themselves connecting with fans at Comic-Con, listening to their incredible stories and felt a twominute conversation wasn’t enough. “There is only so much you can say in two minutes at a Comic-Con signing. We wanted to create a platform to encourage them, motivate them, for us to have a dialogue with them, and them have a dialogue with each other.” Shethority is a safe place for women to have conversations, inspire, and connect with each other.
When Candice is not filming in Vancouver, she’s back in L.A. “I’m homesick all the time. I just want to be in the sunshine back at home.” At home, Candice likes to live a normal life as much as she can. “I like to hangout in my apartment, hangout with my friends, go to escape rooms, go bowling, just hang out in my house watching movies,” she says. And she doesn’t go anywhere without Zoey, her two-year old Maltipoo.