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 stars in the dramatic series, "Rogue," which premiered Wednesday night on DirecTV's in-house channel Audience Network. It's DirecTV's first venture into original programming.

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.

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."