The Supergirl actress reminisces about hanging out at Cape Elizabeth’s Fort Williams Park.
Photograph by Danielle Sykes
Best Former Job
Window server at Figgy’s Takeout, on Portland’s West End. Whenever she’s in Maine, she says, “I have to get an Ay Ay Ron chicken-and-biscuit sandwich.”
Acadia’s Beehive Trail. “I’m not a real athletic hiker, so it’s the perfect level of challenge for me.”
Surprisingly Nostalgic Place
The Maine Mall. “Sitting in the food court with a Sarku Japan teriyaki chicken and a maki roll and a huge Sprite that I split with my friends, that was every weekend in high school, and it was the most fun.”
Growing up, Nicole Maines didn’t regularly read comics. The 23-year-old plays a half-alien hero called Dreamer on the CW Network’s primetime drama Supergirl, but as a budding thespian attending Portland’s Waynflete School, she was more into swords and shields than superheroes. For fun, she and her friends headed to Cape Elizabeth with an arsenal of homemade medieval weaponry to blow off steam — and bemuse casual park-goers — with an afternoon of LARPing, or live-action role-playing.
“So we’d take all our weapons and everything and go to Fort Williams. Half of us would set up at the fort and half in the woods across from it, then we’d meet in the middle and fight,” Maines explains. “We had these beautiful, ornate-looking swords, shields, maces, and axes, and we just duked it out.”
And perchance, were these LARPing friends fellow theater kids? “Oh absolutely,” Maines laughs. “Yeah, the Waynflete cast of The Crucible, basically.”
The faux feudal combat was a release from the weightier things she had on her mind as an adolescent. From 2008 to 2014, Maines, who is transgender, was “Susan Doe,” the plaintiff in a headline-grabbing lawsuit over whether the school district in her previous home of Orono could deny her access to a bathroom matching her gender identity. When Maine’s Supreme Court decided the case in her favor, it was the first time any state’s highest court had ruled in such a case in favor of a transgender student.
While studying art at UMaine, back in Orono, Maines visited LA here and there for auditions but with some uncertainty. “I thought, I’m from Maine,” she says. “I don’t know how realistic it is for me to become a successful actor from where I am.” Then came a call in 2018 looking for a trans actress to play Nia Nal, a character new to DC Comics, created for the Supergirl TV show. Nal, trans herself and a coworker of Supergirl’s alter ego, learns to tap her alien powers to fight alongside her super colleague. The character has been a hit, with fans calling for Dreamer to continue in the DC universe after Supergirl ends its seventh and final season this fall.
So this summer, Maines brought the new hero to print, penning a Dreamer adventure for a special DC anthology released during Pride Month. “The people at DC gave me an incredible amount of trust,” the first-time comics author says, which she tried not to abuse by taking the character off in any wild new directions. She did augment Dreamer just a bit, though: she gave her a sword.