A few days ago, I was fortunate enough to attend Marvel Studios’ Black Panther junket in Beverly Hills. Of course, I had to share some of the highlights from the press conference that featured all of the key cast members, producer Kevin Feige, and writer/director Ryan Coogler (The GOAT).
Before the Press Junket started the marvel team put all the Black Panther Merchandise on Display as well as some of the Costumes for the actual movie.
The biggest thing I took away from the movie was how extraordinary the women were. The women were also the highlights of the press junket as well. They spoke about their roles and how well they were represented in the movie.
Danai Gurira (Okoye): “When Ryan sat me down and talked to me about his vision and the story and the characters and the women, I was just floored. Because you don’t actually get to hear that often…and then it embodied with us being on the continent, women from the continent, but very developed, very complex. It was amazing. This was something that was like, ‘I just want to watch it. I get to be in it? I just want to watch this!’ It was amazing, the idea of the Dora Milaje, the whole concept of them and to see them come to life. And these astounding women who I started training with one by one. I was the first one to get my head shaved. And in theory, it sounds amazing. But then you get there…and you’re like, ‘That’s happening today?!’ And it happened, and you go into the restroom to wash your hands, and you look up and you’re like, ‘What the –!’ It took me a few days. And then all of the girls start coming in, and they’ve all been balded, and then the pride started to grow. This pride, and this embracing of this symbol of power in these women and the beauty of how he wrote that moment – I love that moment where she doesn’t want a wig. She doesn’t want it covered. Her joy and her pride is walking in with her bald head with that tattoo on it. That’s so subversive, and so subversive in the right way – to say, ‘That’s not necessarily beauty. You don’t have to have hair to be beautiful.’”
Letitia Wright (Shuri): “How it was written is that the men are always behind the women as well, so no one is undermining them. They’re not like, ‘You shouldn’t be in technology, and you shouldn’t be in math.’ They’re like, ‘No, go ahead.’ T’Challa’s like, ‘Go ahead, sis. This is your department, this is your domain. Kill it. I’m going to work with you to finalize it.’ Because he’s dope…that’s the mentality of the king, and that’s brilliant.”
Angela Bassett (Ramonda): “[I was] extraordinarily [proud] and so pleased that this story, written by Ryan and Joe Robert Cole, and [that] Marvel supported that. In African culture, they feel as if there is no king without a queen, and I think in this story, it highlights the queen. The warrior. The general. The young sister. So I was so proud to have my daughter and my son [at the premiere] last night because in their faces and in their spirit, they were feeling themselves. They stood taller after last night.”
Lupita Nyong’o (Nakia): “What I love about the way this film represents women is that each and every one of us is an individual, unique, and we all have our own sets of power and our own agency. We hold our own space without being pitted against each other. I think that’s a very, very powerful message to send to children, both male and female. I think oftentimes in movies, we fall into that trap where women – there’s very few of us, and then we are against each other. There’s a competitive spirit. This film freezes all that. We see women going about their business, and supporting each other and even arguing with each other. Having different points of view, but still not being against each other. I think that’s extremely important. In so doing, the fact that in this film there’s so many of us, we really get a sense of the fabric of Wakanda as a nation. We see women alongside men and we see how much more effective a society can be if they allow women to explore their full potential.”
Ryan Coogler also praised the women behind the camera as well!
Ryan Coogler: “Just to add to that, speaking for some of the folks who were involved with the film that aren’t here. This film evolved from brilliant women all over, from start to finish. As I said, Kevin runs the studio, but he does it with his right and left hand. His right hand is Louis D’Esposito, and his left hand is Victoria Alonso, who is amazing. She was there from day one. Our crew was just [full] of women who were hired because they were the best person for the job. They weren’t hired because they were women, they were hired because they were the best for the job. That was our cinematographer Rachel Morrison, our costume designer Ruth Carter, our production designer Hannah Beachler, and our first assistant director, who was responsible for getting everything going, Lisa Satriano. In post-production, this film was edited by Michael Shawver and Debbie Berman, who’s from South Africa, and finished by Victoria Alonso. Throughout that process, it was a constant thing – we’d be in a script meeting and Victoria would raise her hand sometimes and be like, ‘Yo, I don’t think that should happen.’ And we were like, ‘OK!’ (laughs) You maybe zig where you should have zagged, and working with these amazing women, I was incredibly blessed to have these people, to have that perspective, to have their fingerprints all over it. That presence is – what is it, over half of the population? It was there constantly, and there in full effect.”
The King himself had to show some love to the badass women!
Chadwick Boseman (T’Challa/Black Panther): “I want to speak to that for a minute. I think when you talk about what Wakanda is and what it would have to be in order to progress to the place [it is in the movie], even though we’re talking about a fantasy, the idea of an unconquered nation that has not been tampered with by the various means that it would have been tampered with. The idea of the next generation being smarter, being better than you is a concept that they would have evolved to. Even though we’re in the same generation – she’s my younger sister – she benefits from what I have reached. So you want your sons and daughters to be better than you were. That concept is a Wakandan concept. My older siblings, they raised me…you see the genius that is inside the people that come after you, and if you have an ancestral ground, they’re looking at you like, ‘I know you’re looking up to me, but we’re looking up to you.’ That’s an African concept.”
Overall the Press Junket is something I’ll never forget. I want to say thank you, Disney, for inviting Geeks of Color to the Press Junket. The cast was amazing. We have a lot more black panther coverage coming soon! Make sure to follow us on Twitter to get the latest news on the movie!
Black Panther slashes into theaters Feburary 16th!