Candice Patton is the female lead on one of The CW's top series The Flash, in which she plays Iris West—aspiring journalist by day and girlfriend of Barry Allen (aka The Flash) by night.
This is one of Patton’s first major roles, and to be on a show that features iconic characters recognizable to even her superhero-crazed, four-year-old nephew has been a rad experience for her whole family.
But you don’t become the best friend of a superhero without earning it first. In a world where wannabe actors are often tempted to forgo a college education in order to begin performing professionally, Candice elected to put in the extra effort and study theatre at Dallas’s Southern Methodist University.
Patton doesn’t think higher education is absolutely necessary in order to become a successful actor, though. “I think it depends on the person,” she told me. “I wouldn’t trade those four years for anything, but I think college is more about learning who you are and becoming an adult in a fairly safe environment. I learned a lot by getting my B.F.A. in Theater; I think I’m a stronger television and film actress because of it, but I don’t think college is for everyone, and I don’t think everyone needs to go.”
Regardless, her decision to attend paid off, as it allowed her to cross paths with the casting team from The Young and the Restless. “I won like a national soap contest. The Young and the Restless was going across college campuses and looking for someone to join their show, and I ended up being the female winner from that,” she said. As a result, Patton was awarded the temporary role of Robin.
So she took a break from school and did her short stint at Y&R. Patton did such a stellar job that she was asked to stay longer, but she instead chose to return to SMU, completing her Bachelor of Fine Arts and graduating with highest honors.
Afterward, she moved out to L.A. and landed small parts on all kinds of shows. At first, it was small stuff, like a web series called Sorority Fever. But in 2009, she was cast on Entourage by David Nutter, who would produce and direct The Flash five years later. This led to roles on other hit series such as One Tree Hill, Castle, CSI: Miami, and of course The Flash.
There are lots of ways to describe The Flash. It’s action-packed. It’s cerebral. It’s heartfelt. But here’s one thing that it’s not—obscene. In a media landscape that rewards show for becoming increasingly irreverent, it almost feels weird to watch a show like the The Flash—a show you wouldn’t be embarrassed to watch with your grandparents.
I asked Candice if she thought doing such a traditional show has been artistically limiting. She didn’t seem to think so.
“It’s something that everyone can watch, and I think that’s amazing,” she said. “I’ll go to these conventions, or I’ll meet fans on the street, and they’ll say, ‘Tuesday night is the night me and my daughter watch The Flash.’ It’s great that there’s a show on television that families can watch together. There’s so little of that these days.”
And if you don’t have kids, she says it’s a great show for binge-watching, too. Patton considers herself blessed to be on a show like The Flash, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t exhausting work. If she could have any superpower she wanted, she would pick power-napping.
Photography by Paris Helena
Written by Cody Fitzpatrick
Stylig by Alex Shera
Hair by Mariah Buian
Makeup by Samantha Bates
Set Assisting by Sarah Portillo