Sydney Tamiia Poitier Plays Queer in “Knight Rider” TV Movie

NBC’s two-hour movie spin-off of the classic 1980s series Knight Rider debuted Sunday night with a lesbian/bisexual character among its four lead characters.

The movie is a sequel that picks up 20 years after the end of the series about the talking car that made David Hasselhoff a household name. The movie follows the adventures of his son, Mike (Justin Bruening):

KITT (Knight Industries Three Thousand) is the coolest car ever created and someone is willing to do anything to obtain it. Sarah Graiman (Deanna Russo) is a 24-year-old Ph.D. candidate at Stanford, following in her genius father Charles’ (Bruce Davison) footsteps. When she receives word from KITT that her father is missing, they set out to find and recruit childhood pal and former boyfriend Mike Traceur (Justin Bruening) to help uncover who is behind the attempt to procure KITT and locate Charles.

34-year-old actress Sydney Tamiia Poitier (Grindhouse, Veronica Mars) — the biracial daughter of Oscar-winning actor Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus — plays Carrie Ruvai, “a tough FBI agent who doesn’t see eye-to-eye with Mike.”

In a Feb. 5th interview with a fan site, Poitier describes Carrie Ruvai as a woman with “a very strong sense of what’s right and wrong. When she’s working, she’s all business. She’s very tough and very strong. But she also has a real sense of fun. She enjoys herself, and she’s a surfer, and she’s kind of a no-nonsense, grounded, down-to-earth kind of girl.”

Ruvai’s romantic interest in women is established early in the film. As Ruvai is at home getting ready to leave for work, she has a conversation with an unnamed blond woman in her bed, who asks Ruvai if she’s OK with leaving someone she just met alone in her home. Ruvai’s sexuality is not referenced or elaborated on any further in the movie.

In the interview, Poitier indicated the writers weren’t sure what they had planned for her character’s sexual orientation:

Initially my character was a lesbian, and then I think they’re planning on making her bi, so it kind of opens up the possibilities. So there could be something happening. At least that’s what they said, but I couldn’t tell if they were kidding or not. (laughs)

If Knight Rider gets picked up — it could become a series as early as this fall — and Poitier’s character stays gay or bisexual, she would be the only leading lesbian/bi woman of color on scripted broadcast television.

If Cashmere Mafia doesn’t get renewed for another season (the last episode of its strike-shortened season airs this week), she may be the only queer woman of any ethnicity on broadcast television this fall.

Visit the official Knight Rider website.