How These 15 Women Inspired Aza Superheroes
As the creator of a universe of women superheroes, I often get asked how I create my characters. Well, the truth is that I use real life. When I create a character, I start from scratch and often times it’s personality traits that will inspire a character. I’ve even used personality traits from multiple people to create just one character. So, for Women’s History Month I’ve decided to acknowledge the incredible women who have inspired my characters.
1. Warriors of Dahomey
These women were an army regiment that lasted until the 19th century as part of the Dahomey Kingdom in present-day Benin. These women inspired the character Kala, warrior princess and leader of The Keepers. She can manipulate force and energy and has the ability to match the strength of any opponent.
2.-3. Janet Jackson & Queen Hatshepsut
Music icon Janet Jackson helped inspire Thema who is Kala’s mother and the queen of Arjana. It was Janet’s feminist lyrics about taking control of your life that helped inspire the inner strength within Queen Thema while my own mother inspired her ‘I wish you would’ attitude. Thema’s political saavy comes from none-other then Queen Hatshepsut, who restored Egypt to economic glory. She also was the only queen to establish herself as a King so that no one could remove her from the throne.
4.-5. Lee ‘CL’ Chaerin & Jessi
Anyone who follows Korean pop surely knows CL and Jessi. CL is a rapper, singer, and popstar known for being the leader of the girl group 2NE1. Jessi is in her own league and is probably one of the most hood chicks I have ever seen in my life. Their bravado and tough-girl attitudes helped to inspire Amaya.
6. Urmila Matondkar
Why Urmila? Because she’s EVERYTHING! That’s why!
Whether she’s giving you face in Rangeela, scaring the hell out of you in Kaun?, or showing off her dance skills in iconic ear-worms like Chamma Chamma, she is undeniably a Bollywood Queen! Her strong heroine roles, intense acting style, and successful female-centric movies cemented her status as part of an elite group of actresses who helped change the role of women in Indian cinema.
I think you can see why she was the inspiration for Indira. Indira is a guardian who guides The Keepers in their journey to protect the Aza Universe. She’s originally Adanna’s guardian and treats her like a daughter. She’s funny, over-the-top, and doesn’t take crap from anyone. She’s also the oldest guardian to exist and is besties with the Goddess Titilayo (something she loves to mention).
7.-8. Lil Kim & Nicki Minaj
Look, don’t tweet me your crazy. I could care less than two flips who’s side you’re on in this beef. All I know is that Lil Kim’s OG-hardcore-queen-bee-attitude and Nicki Minaj’s goofy sense of humor made an incredible character named Genie Dos Santos.
While Genie doesn’t have any actual powers, she does have some interesting surprises that I think people will find interesting. She’s a true ride-or-die and extremely resourceful. I guess you can call those superpowers.
9. Nadia Bjorlin
Many know her from Days Of Our Lives and Venice: The Series. I grew up watching soaps and I always loved her eyes. She inspired a lot of the look of Jase. Jase’s eyes are a major part of her abilities. She has infrared vision that she can turn on and off when necessary. Jase comes from a planet where the humans evolved differently than on earth…You’ll learn all about it in the upcoming series Genie & Jase.
10. Ix Chel
Ix Chel is the Mayan goddess of fertility and healing (medicine). She was the inspiration for superhero Ixchel. Ixchel is a shy super-genius with the power to manipulate electrical energy. She is a geneticist by trade and is the team doctor for The Keepers.
11. Carla Gugino
I literally grew up watching this woman. From The Son-in-Law, to Spy Kids, to The Haunting, just about every millennial should know who she is. While Katia, Kala’s guardian, is loosely based off of my own stepmother, much of the look and essence of her character was inspired by Carla.
12.-13. Hedy Lamarr & Geeta Phogat
Hedy Lamarr was a glamorous actress who was prominent in the 1940s and 1950s. She was also super smart. With no formal training, she was able to invent frequency hopping which is how we encrypt data and created the foundation for wifi and Bluetooth that we use today. She was constantly inventing things and had a way of looking at things differently than other people. Even on her movie sets, she would have a mini chem lab in her trailer so that she could work on her inventions while she filmed.
It was this quality of her personality that inspired Aza’s Indian superhero, Adanna. Adanna is a natural at mechanics and engineering. She can look at something and understand how it works. She also is constantly tinkering with machines and improving them.
14. Anna Wintour
Anna Wintour helped to inspire the superheroine Fenna. I wanted the professions of each of The Keepers to be different and unique. I really wanted to push the envelope of what oftentimes women think is possible for them to be in life. Each of The Keepers have unique professions that push against the status Quo.
Fenna is a fashion designer and always wanted to be a model. The industry said she was ‘too big’ to be a model so she used her love of fashion to become a designer and models her own clothes. She has the power of regeneration and can heal from wounds. She also is an empath who can feel other people’s emotions and also influence their emotions.
15. Diana Ross
The Goddess Titilayo who chose The Keepers and basically runs the whole Aza universe was inspired by none other than The Boss Miss Diana Ross. I mean, do I even need to explain that. I knew the character needed to be fabulous, glamorous, larger than life and Miss Ross is quite literally the most fabulous woman that ever existed. I mean, she did a gazillion costume changes during a 12-min Superbowl performance and then left the stage in a helicopter!
This particular gif of her iconic Central Park performance sealed the deal. The style of Titilayo is very 1980s Diana Ross. Big, fabulous hair that’s always blowing (lol), lots of capes, bodysuits, and sparkling attire. In fact, the Goddess Titilayo is pure love and energy because all of Diana Ross’ songs are about love. Also, everything on the Goddess sparkles with energy just like Miss Ross’ outfits.
Diana Ross is also known for being an exceptional mother. I listened to a lot of interviews from her kids about the kind of parent she is and incorporated that into Titilayo and how she mothers the universe.
Everyone will get to see the Goddess Titilayo in the second installment of The Keepers due in fall of 2019. What’s insane is that Remero and I were obsessing over Diana at the same time lol. It’s easy to fall down a Diana Ross rabbit hole on youtube.
As you can see, many of the inspirations came from women who I admire or affected me in some way. Just remember that as a woman your greatest gift to the world is to be yourself. Own who you are, support other women, and go for what you want.