JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr.
ATLANTA (AP) -- Thandie Newton doesn't shy away from the idea that she might be a role model.
As she takes on a leading television role, she hopes to empower women like the stars who have come before her -- Kerry Washington, Regina King and Anika Noni Rose among them.
"They have empowered many," said Newton, a racially mixed actress who is of British and Zimbabwean decent. "Empowerment anywhere leads to empowerment everywhere. The world is changing at a pace where it needs to be. That's how I feel, and I'm proud to be a part of this movement."
The 40-year-old actress will star in the dramatic series, "Rogue," which premieres Wednesday night on DirecTV's in-house channel Audience Network. It'll be DirecTV's first venture into original programming, and the third series to air on Audience along with "Friday Night Lights" and "Damages."
On the 10-episode "Rogue," Newton plays Grace Travis, an undercover detective who takes on a gangster after her son is killed in a drive by shooting.
"It's the most time I've had to explore a character. It was a luxury," she said. "I had a chance to explore the settled details of what this person is going through. That's why TV is so great. You get to see deeper than you would if it was an hour and a half, although it felt like we were making a 10-hour movie."
Newton, who has starred in movies such as "Crash" and "The Pursuit of Happiness," said the show's creator Matthew Parkhill told her before taping "Rogue" to prepare herself mentally and physically for the filming process.
"He said 'Crash' was only six days for you. This show will be 'Crash' for four months," recalled Newton. "I'm very instinctive when it comes to the emotional stuff, but I knew I needed stamina."
Newton wanted to get more into character, learning the techniques of Krav Maga -- an Israeli tactical self-defense method used in close combat. She thought it would be better for her to show that she can actually fight, rather than tote around a gun.
"I wanted to train in the gritty street-like way," she said. I was playing an undercover detective, so I wanted to look like I was well trained. I didn't want to be the character looking sexy with a gun."
Newton said she was glad to show that she's more than a pretty face.
"For me, it has been a gradual evolution of empowerment of women of color," she said. "I'm a success already. I'm happy to influence others along the way. ... This is one life. If we're able to help others while on this journey, then fantastic."
Follow Jonathan Landrum Jr. on Twitter at http://twitter.com/MrLandrum31
Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.