In the upcoming Netflix series Jupiter’s Legacy (based on a graphic novel series of the same name by Mark Millar and Frank Quitely), a younger generation of superheroes grapples with the idea that their legendary parents paved the way for a world that didn’t it was just the way they imagined it. Tenika Davis plays Petra Small, a superhero who tries hard to live up to her father’s name. “I’ve always been a bit of a high-flyer who wanted to please my parents as much as possible, so I was able to relate to this character and understand how hard they can be with themselves when they don’t reach the level of success, of who she thought she would, ”said Davis W on the phone, calling from her hometown of Toronto, where she was also filming episodes of Jupiter’s Legacy (which will be released May 7). “Her father tries to help her to see that she is great.”
Everyone knows that exercising like a superhero isn’t easy – but the Jupiter’s Legacy star wants to nurture the idea that the “full spectrum of fitness,” including post-exercise recovery, is a part of the wellness journey that cannot be ignored can. The actress also revealed how physically demanding the role was, from training hours seven days a week to exercising strength she didn’t even know she had when trying to slip into a “super suit.” . Here, Davis shares her best fitness and wellness tips received on set and beyond.
Has the science fiction genre always been on your radar, or have you recently dived into it just for Jupiter’s legacy?
I was that little kid in elementary school who transformed and “had powers” and ran and said, “I do magic.” I tried that as a kid during recess. The science fiction world is something I’ve always been obsessed with so getting this show was a dream for me. Being an adult and putting on a super suit – and we actually have everything set up to be able to fly and shoot fireballs – is pretty amazing. The little girl in me is jumping for joy.
Jupiter’s legacy follows kids of superheroes and how the rules of being a superhero change as the younger generation shows up. Could you relate to your character Petra Small and her dynamic with her superhero father?
Petra is in an interesting situation. In the comics, all family relationships are disturbed and broken. As with any real family, there are always moments that destroy relationships. What I think we’re going to see in the relationship between me and my dad on the show is its complicated beginning, but in the end to improve their relationship. It’s an example of a relationship that is healthier and restored. Even though things are falling apart in the world and we see what’s going on with this family, our characters embody what it would be like to have a fixed family relationship. There must be a light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s a very physically demanding part – how did you stay physically fit to be healthy and do stunts?
They chose people based on who brought a certain energy to the role. On that first day, we all got the call that we were going to fitness and stunt training. I was with Leslie Bibb and Josh Duhamel. We sat in our training gear and wondered what the hell did we come up with? Nobody asked if you were physically fit to audition for the role, but we were indebted to whatever they asked us to do. We all had this moment that we were whoa that’s a lot. [Laughs.] I have to pay my respects to the stunt team. They got us in shape. We had two months of training where we did about two hours of stunts, so we learned how to choreograph a fight scene with a supervillain. Some of the other characters were brought in for their stunts as well, but after that we would be fit for about an hour. So that was three hours of training every day – I did stunt training, my regular fitness training, ate and slept. We were treated like athletes.
What did you do to recover?
I don’t think people are telling you enough about the painful part of this workout: lots of ice baths, lots of chiropractic treatments, lots of massages, lots of questions, “Can I do this physically?” But part of the journey was moving beyond boundaries that I didn’t know I was physically capable of. Kudos to the production that made it possible for us to train this way with the wonderful personal trainer who got our butts in shape. It was tough, very challenging.
Did you have any experience of physically demanding work for movies or shows prior to Jupiter’s legacy?
I have a martial arts background – a black belt in Tae Kwon Do – so I understand what it means to undergo a consistent training regime. I was kind of prepared and I’m glad because I didn’t want to be a person who had never been to the gym and then got that kind of role. People need to think realistically about the roles they get involved in! It seems really cool to be an action hero, but part of it involves intense activity. If someone dreams of getting involved in it, please go to the gym in advance as it will save you so much pain. Literally. [Laughs.]
Did you keep any of this after production ended?
I kept the post-shooting health and fitness routine so I didn’t have to go back to that first level of fitness and build it up again. It constantly eats healthy and takes care of the body.
What would your ideal spa treatment look like?
I like saunas and water treatments. When I go to the gym, recovery time is usually in the steam room. I love lavender, eucalyptus, anything to open you up. I breathe, relax, and sit alone. I’m a very active person so sweating is something I really enjoy. After that, I love massage therapy and I grow up in hot and cold baths. I love the feeling of jumping into something freezing cold and feeling needles. I jumped into rivers that were previously frozen because I really enjoy that feeling – as long as I can get warm somewhere afterwards.
What is a fitness tip you received on set?
Have a diet that drives you. My food choices changed after Jupiter’s legacy. I started doing research to find out how my metabolism worked, how I could get my muscle gains, and what kind of physical activity I should do after a workout. I make sure that I consistently take care of myself. When you put on the super suit, it’s like having a second skin. It feels like you are an anaconda that ate another anaconda, it’s very tight. It felt like a tough band all over my body, so it took even muscle to get into it. At the end of the day, it was really important to have plenty of exercise, get enough sleep, and recover in a resistance band throughout the day. When I did this workout, eight hours of sleep wasn’t enough for me, it was more like 10 to 12. I’ve learned to respect the full spectrum of fitness – it doesn’t just tear your muscles apart, it’s how you use them again builds up.
What is the best beauty or wellness advice you have ever received and who was it from?
I don’t know if anyone gave me this advice. I’m a bookworm so I always want to find out how things work and I read a lot of articles on how to take care of yourself and your skin. I have been known to go on a bit of detox diet every now and then, but I’ve studied a lot on the subject. Actually, an alternative practitioner gave me the best advice. I had gone to one before and had eczema at the time. It was really bad and I had a stressful time in life when my childhood eczema decided to come back. It was on my face and that was difficult because I was modeling a lot. Your face is everything when you are a model! I had a big transition during that time. The first thing the naturopath asked me was, “How are your relationships? What are you working? How are you feeling? ”And it was weird to me that she would ask questions about my personal life because I wanted to talk about my skin. But I realized that beauty and wellness start from within. The happier you are in yours Feeling inside, the better and healthier your relationships, the more you will find ways to love and take care of yourself.I saw that beauty was nothing that cream could fix.
Is there a beauty trend that you are unfortunately part of?
Yes! I am a dark skinned black woman and there was a time in my life when I was aware of the color of my skin. I felt weird to be dark. When I was younger I thought that if I had lighter skin I would somehow be more accepted by society. I don’t know where this is coming from but I tried using a bleaching cream. It was the biggest mistake of my life. It completely discolored my skin, giving me one color on my face and another on my neck. But it came from a place of hurt. That’s one of the things that I look back on and see who I was. I regret the place i have been to. Now I appreciate my dark skin and everything about it that I love, but then I struggled with myself – Appreciation. Finding love and appreciation for myself has been a journey, and now I’m in a place where I appreciate all of that. Every single flaw is only part of me.
What is the biggest skin care rule you follow right now?
After going through something like this, my routine is very natural and simple. Less is more. I am meticulous about my skin care routine. It doesn’t matter if I went out and had a few drinks, I’m notorious for being diligent about my routine. I make sure my products don’t contain too many chemicals or things that I don’t recognize. When I can eat it, I usually feel great putting it on my face, especially because I’ve had eczema and am paranoid about going back to it. Exercise also helps to make sure that blood and oxygen are circulating under my skin.
Who is your beauty icon?
I worked with Angela Bassett on a film called Jumping the Broom in 2011, and for me she’s the guru when it comes to skin care. That year she took me to the spa. I always looked up to her and found her absolutely awesome and she was on my vision board before I started getting bigger roles. When we had facials together, I asked her every single question. I didn’t have a filter! I asked her to tell me everything.
And what did she say?
She said she hasn’t gone a week without a facial since she was a teenager. She said she made sure she consistently took care of her skin no matter what. I told her her skin was amazing and she said don’t skip the stuff because you will see the benefits later in life. If she sees her doing it in her 60s I’ll do what she does!
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