Black Panther has spent four weeks at No. 1, bringing in an astonishing $1 billion in revenue worldwide since its release. The film has instilled a sense of pride within moviegoers that continues to intensify with each viewing, thanks in large part to the phenomenal ladies who make up the women of Wakanda.
The Forgiven star Forest Whitaker recently shared his thoughts with EBONY on the importance of co-stars Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Guira and Letitia Wright, whose strength and intellect exuded throughout Black Panther take the film beyond the superhero troupes of past into something truly revolutionary.
While it was the Oscar-winner’s first time working with several of his Black Panther co-stars, Whitaker and Bassett, who plays T’Challa’s mother, Ramonda, have a history that he believes contributed to their on-screen chemistry.
“I love Angela. I directed her in Waiting to Exhale, so I’ve known her for years,” shares the actor.
“Reuniting during Black Nativity was a wonderful experience. For Black Panther, I didn’t have a lot of dialogue with her, but there’s a connection that we’ve shared for years that I think helped with the familiarity of our characters.”
He goes on to praise his female co-stars for bringing diverse depictions of African women to the big screen.
“What’s powerful about it is that there are different types of powerful women. Danai and what she did with that role (Okoye), she embodies strategy and physical power. Angela has this powerful, motherly role, but she’s not just his mother, she’s an adviser,” Whitaker emphasizes. “Letitia’s character, Shuri, directly combats this myth that women don’t excel at science, math and tech, and I think her being the most brilliant person in the movie, and the youngest, makes a statement.
He continued, “Even with Lupita (Nakia) being a spy, you see this confident warrior, but you also see a loving, sensitive side as well. There’s just so many different depictions of female power, and I think that’s very unusual.”
In the end, he thanked director Ryan Coogler for helping create a world where Black women are shown as the resilient leaders they’ve always been while letting our little girls know anything is possible.
“With Ryan’s deep vision, he was able to create so many female archetypes for people to see within themselves, within the world and for younger girls to aspire to.”
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Born and raised in Compton, California, Jessica Bennett began her career as an intern at The Oakland Post, and later, The Source Magazine. She went on to write for respected hip hop publications such as DJ Booth and Hip Hop DX before becoming the Urban Editor of pop culture website, Wetpaint.com. She joined Ebony as the Entertainment Editor August 2017. Bennett has interviewed such names as Vanessa Williams, Spike Lee, Tyra Banks, Forest Whitaker, Magic & Cookie Johnson and several others.