By Deborah Bailey,
For many, the much-anticipated Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, opening in movie theaters nation-wide on Nov. 11, is much more than the fictional next chapter in the journey of Wakanda’s fight for survival after the death of the King T’Challah.
T’Challah was portrayed by the late actor, Chadwick Boseman, who died in August 2020. Marvel Studios remained quiet for months after Bosman’s death about how the record-breaking Black Panther series would continue.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is a euphemism for the struggles faced and overcome for people of color as we move to new chapters in our lives. The film carried meaning for the actors themselves as well. The cast discussed the film and its impact on their own lives at the National African American Museum of History and Culture (NAAMHC) Red Carpet at the Washington, D.C. premiere showing.
“I was raised by strong, resilient Black women,” said Angela Bassett, who leads the talented cast as Queen Mother Ramonda, a continuation of her role in the first Black Panther film released in 2018.
“I took examples from strong, resilient men and women in my life,” Bassett added. “I don’t walk this road by myself, in my own strength and bravery and courageousness. I take it from our people. I am inspired, uplifted, enriched by our people and our history.”
The iconic actor has unapologetically starred in acclaimed roles featuring courageous Black women since her Academy Award nominated performance as Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With It.” During her decades’ extensive career in Hollywood, the actor has declined roles requiring gratuitous nudity and stereo-typical portrayals of Black women.
Lupita Nyong’o, (Nakia) said she is grateful to be part of a production portraying Black women as primary characters in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
“I feel extremely grateful to be part of a story like this that has the feminist agenda in its DNA,” said Nyong’o.
“It makes organic sense that women would be leading this story, that we would see how the women handle the passing of their king,” Nyong’o added. “There’s no muscling, for power in Wakanda for the women. And that’s something to aspire to in our world.”
Nyong’o believes Hollywood has no choice but to understand and learn from the lessons that the first Black Panther movie and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever offer. The actor said that each role she plays expands the vision for black talent in the film industry.
“We do it one film at a time,” Nyong’o concluded.
Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta, (Namor) one of the new characters in the Wakanda story said that the Black Panther series was pivotal in creating agency for people of color and representation for the collaborative journey of Blacks and Latin Americans.
“This movie was the door for representation for many people. There is room for all of us in this world. Wakanda Forever is the perfect frame to show who we are and embrace Brown and Black power.”
Huerta said that as the film appears on movie screens throughout the world, it will convey the common roots shared by blacks and Latin Americans.
“We are the same – we share the same root. It’s time to embrace and recognize each other,” he said.
“And it’s just good business. It’s a win-win proposition,” he added.
For actor and Afro-futurist Winston Duke, in the role of M’Baku, both venue and event are part of the Wakanda Forever premier story.
“A movie like this adds a lot of gas to the tank about what could happen in the future,” Duke said.
“Being here tonight in a space that’s so full of ancestral narrative that shows the disparate space that we came from. Having this movie about black leads and black imagination really sets up beautifully what tomorrow can be for all of us.”
The Tobagonian actor said the Black Panther narrative is representative of the journey of Black people throughout the diaspora.
Large epics have a space. We live in a large epic. Everything that has happened to us (Black people) has been large and epic,” Duke said. “We have a space in science fiction and Afro-futurism. Our ancestors dreamt of this day. Tonight, is a manifestation of the light that our ancestors saw.”
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