Meet two of the most powerful women in the film Black Panther. During a recent interview in Los Angeles after the purple carpet world premiere, we sat down to chat about empowerment, culture, purpose, and even a little bit about their training for the film which premieres in theaters 2/16. Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira left me in awe and inspired. Please note the interview has been trimmed down to avoid any spoilers, but the full interview will be updated once the film release in theaters. Welcome to Wakanda!
Photo credit Natasha C. Nicholes / HousefulOfNicholes.com
In the film, Nakia demonstrated an independent spirit and loyalty to her country. Can you relate to her as a woman who is on a mission to make a difference?
Danai- Yes, I can relate to her power and purpose. I was saying earlier I really see her as a very intense ten-year-old who had a focus in life. I never wanted to be in the military but when I decided what I wanted to do I was very clear about it. I could really relate to that about her(Nakia), about the way that she is so dedicated to her nation and so dedicated to her people the idea like much is given much is expected and I feel like she considers Wakanda like this gem something priceless that she cannot let slip. That’s really something that propelled me and connected me to her.
Can we you talk about the training process for the both of you?
Danai-We trained a lot! Jo Jo and were just awesome they took us through so many components that they crafted with Ryan.
Lupita-The training was tedious but fun. The training was a big part of getting into character because understanding how someone fights reveal a lot about them. What their values are and who they are. Nakia’s fighting style was street meaning she would have no problem using guns or her shoe he was willing to use whatever to get the job done. We occupy our own space and then going into battle together everyone has a different strength to bring to the table full of culture and very specific.
Can you tell us about what it took to bring these two female characters to life? What is your process for creating these characters?
Lupita-Well I think for both of us especially when we’re dealing with African representation in a story we feel such a strong sense of responsibility and desire, deep desire to see African women on screen that look and feel like we know them to be. With these characters we wanted them to be women that we know and like the women that I know are complex and they’re deep and they’re about something other than just the man in their lives and so I think that was important to us. It was also important to Ryan as well to have women who are standing on their own in this movie because personally. I know Danai so well because I know her so well women with agency and strength a does not mean an absence of vulnerability, but it means that you understand. You have it in yourself to get yourself through things and to seek help. What I mean that strength in itself is a very complex idea so it was important to us as women if you commit to expressing humanity and not.
I commend Ryan for this because in the end his story is not about punchlines and clips and things to make it fun and enjoyable and yet it’s still fun and enjoyable but there’s an integrity to these people. We really get a sense of what Wakanda’s society is like and we see a society where men and women are participating fully in the development of the nation and in so doing they’re reaching their full potential and that’s good for everybody.
I noticed that hair in culture seem to be a beauty statement can give us a little insight on that?
Danai-Beauty is such a celebration and I think that’s so powerful. Often you don’t see Africanisms celebrated I love what the hair department and the costume department did. They really pulled from real actual cultures and ethnic differentiation and how hair is celebrated across the continent traditionally and currently. I think there is something powerful about all the ways that hair was represented. I think there are so many things that tell us those of African descent who get categorized as the other that there’s one way that they should manifest themselves in society in order to be accepted or acceptable.
I mean it’s an argument I still I hear every time I go to Zimbabwe. It’s like oh, my god they had dreadlocks and I don’t want to go to work with dreadlocks. It’s gotten thinner and thinner but it’s something that still needs to get addressed sometimes and there are some issues even like we thought something we dealt with in the 60s. We thought we got with black is beautiful. We thought we got it and we haven’t. You know, it keeps coming back sometimes so I love that there are so many manifestations of that sort of expressions.
Lupita-I loved that the differentiation of expression and there’s something that only sisters can do. We can do the most with our hair than anybody really you know I mean and we can go bald too and it works. I think that is a celebration we’ve rarely seen exhibited in such splendor so that really excites me for people to see.
Photo Credit Marvel
Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to take his rightful place as King. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.
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BLACK PANTHER arrives in theatres everywhere on February 16, 2018!