Essence’s ‘Black Women in Hollywood’ March issue featuring ‘Black Panther’
LAPACAZO SANDOVAL and ART SHRIAN | 2/22/2018, midnight
According to an article in Indie Wire posted Feb. 7, 2018, the industry predictors are suggesting that “Black Panther” will break many box-office records, stating, “It will very likely join the top five among all Marvel openings, but that’s only the beginning for Ryan Coogler’s superhero.”
In the March issue of Essence, the “Black Panther” cast gives the reader a sneak peek into the incredible world of Wakanda—with three regal covers featuring stars Chadwick Boseman, Forest Whitaker, Michael B. Jordan, Daniel Kaluuya, Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright.
In the article “Watch the Throne,” the cast and creatives expound on why this African fantasy feels very real. Playwright and actress Danai Gurira said that the role was appealing because she responds to the idea of powerful women. “The idea of creating a scenario where you’re seeing very powerful empowered Africans is really thrilling to me,” stated Gurira. “something my heart, soul and spirit yearned to see.”
Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o expressed what she felt, as an African woman, when she walked on the set of Wakanda, offering, “For me, as an African in this film, to walk on set and to see these incredible costumes and hairdos, these are the things I grew up seeing, but they’ve just been elevated to a fantastical place. We’re going to experience the richness of the continent because the continent is what has informed us of what Wakanda could be.”
In the role of the Queen Mother, actress Angela Bassett shared that when she received the call from the director Coogler, she had never heard of her character but was eager to play the stepmother of T’Challa.
What most critics are calling a standout performance by newcomer Letitia Wright, as the Black Panther’s super-smart sister and princess, second in line for the Wakanda throne, the young actress made it clear she understood what was being placed on her slender but capable shoulders.
“We understand the responsibility,” said Wright. “That it can shift mindsets. I can be a Black superhero. I can be a scientist. I’m a queen. I’m a young prince. It’s not about me. It’s bigger than me. It’s bigger than all of us”
Also in the March issue is a feature around their annual Black Women in Hollywood event, at which Essence honors those who shine beyond the screen—Danai Gurira, Tiffany Haddish, Lena Waithe and Tessa Thompson.
Essence’s annual Black Women in Hollywood luncheon—its highly anticipated annual Oscar-week celebration—will take place Thursday, March 1, at the Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills, Calif.
Tiffany Haddish on having fun while performing disclosed, “When you’re onstage, you need to be having fun. That’s the advice Richard Pryor gave me. No matter what I’m doing or where I am, I live by that philosophy…If I’m not having fun? Well, that’s when I end up getting arrested!”
Danai Gurira on creating opportunities for women of color offered, “Creating opportunities for Black women, women of African descent and other women of color is a big part of my mandate because I want us to shine. I understand that being on TV as Michonne [in ‘The Walking Dead’] and in films like ‘Black Panther’ helps Black girls feel validated. I don’t take that lightly.”
Lena Waithe on winning an Emmy and telling our stories shared, “Being the first Black woman to win an Emmy for comedy writing was just…amazing, but I don’t want to be the last. The award is bigger than me. It’s about our industry, our society, taking a big leap forward. It’s about my ancestors, the women comedy writers and queer communities of color. I shared that moment with them.”
Tessa Thompson on breaking new ground with her roles said, “I feel as if I’m breaking new ground and providing more representation for women of color around the globe. But even if it wasn’t me, I’d still look at those projects and if I saw a woman who looked like me, I’d think, ‘Wow!’”