I was invited to an all-expense paid trip to Los Angeles courtesy of Disney to attend the #BlackPantherEvent & ABCTVEvent in exchange for my coverage. No other compensation was provided. All views shared are completely my own.
Interviewing Lupita Nyong’o & Danai Gurira:
A Behind the Scenes Look at Black Panther #BlackPantherEvent
To whom much is given, much is expected!!
– Danai Gurira’s thoughts on Okoye’s dedication to Wakanda
Our interview with Lupita Nyong’o & Danai Gurira was one of my favorite interviews during the #BlackPantherEvent. Both Danai (Okoye) and Lupita (Nakia), play strong female characters who will stop at nothing to protect their King and their country. Strength, determination, passion, grace, beauty, and fierce are just a few words I can use to describe both these ladies as well as their characters. Lupita is known of her strong depictions of African women, such as her role of Harriet in Queen of Katwe. While Danai is known for kicking butts, taking names and asking questions later, this is depicted in her role as Michonne on AMC’s The Walking Dead. Being familiar with them and a fan of their work I couldn’t wait to chat it up with them about their roles in Black Panther.
Photo Credit: Natasha Nicholes – http://housefulofnicholes.com/
“In which ways do you identify with your characters that helped you develop them as the strong independent women they are?”
I identify with Nakia’s independent spirit and her feeling her loyalty to her country. I understand. She’s a warrior and she’s the chosen warrior of the River Tribe first and foremost, and then she’s also a war dog, an undercover spy but as a warrior, as a leader of her tribe. I think it means a lot to her to make her people proud and I understand that. I relate to that and so I think that was my in my figuring out who she was. I love a woman who is on a mission to make a difference, which is what she’s on.
Yeah, I definitely related to her, her power and purpose. She was very purposeful and I think she’s purposed since she was quite small. I was saying earlier I really see her as like a very intense ten year old and she used to watch the door alarm as you’re walking around when she was a kid. She’s like that..it was just her focus in life.
“The training was a big part of getting into character because understanding how someone fights reveals a lot about, you know, what their values are and who they are!”
– Lupita Nyong’o
We asked: You have both brought very strong female characters to life on screen. Can you talk about what it takes to bring these characters to life? I know it’s acting but it represents what we wanna see in ourselves and see on screen. You guys do it in a way that’s so authentic. What is your process in creating these characters?
…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. So I think that was really important to us. It was also really important to Ryan as well to have women who are standing in their own in this movie, because personally and I know I and Danai are women with agency and strength. Strength does not mean an absence of vulnerability but it means that you understand, you have it in yourself to get yourself through things, to seek help. Strength in itself is a very complex idea and so it was important to us that the women however, whoever and however many lines you have that you come across as being full and that’s not hard if you just, if you commit to expressing humanity and not.
Hair in culture seems to be a beauty statement and they brought it to where we are today with the current, natural styles and things like that. Can you give us a little bit more because you said you had to shave your head and it’s a huge statement in this film?
Yeah, I think the beauty is a celebration and I think that that’s what’s so powerful to me about it. I didn’t think as I was saying, you often don’t see Africanisms celebrated and so I think that completely connects with the hair. I love what the hair department and the costume department did. They really pulled from real actual cultures and ethnic differentiations and how hair is celebrated across the continent traditionally and currently. I think there is something really powerful about all the ways that hair was represented there because I think there are so many things that tell us, the thing that tells those of African descent or people who get categorized as the other that there’s one way that they should actually manifest themselves in society in order to be accepted or acceptable.
5 Cool Facts about Danai Gurira:
- Danai has a passion for the continent of Africa and what she believes the continent is capable of being. Her passion is relayed in the plays she writes.
- Danai says that her character (Michonne) in the Walking Dead has the same type of personality as Nakia does in Black Panther. It’s a get it done now type of a personality.
- Danai was recently announced as one of Essence Magazines honorees for the 2018 Black Women in Hollywood Awards.
- She is a Valentine’s Day Baby, born 2/14/1978.
- Danai has a Bachelors in Arts in Psychology and a Master of Fine Arts in Acting.
5 Cool Facts about Lupita Nyong’o:
- She feels a strong sense of responsibility to portray African Women in a positive light. This was the second time she stated this in my presence, she explained this as well during the Queen of Katwe interviews.
- Lupita won an Academy Award for her performance in 12 Years A Slave.
- Lupita has a Masters of Fine Arts in Acting which she acquired at Yale.
- This is Lupita’s 4th Disney/Marvel/Lucas Films production since my 2015 D23Expo Post. She has starred in The Jungle Book, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and Queen of Katwe.
- In 2015, Lupita starred in a play named Eclipsed which was written by Danai Gurira.
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 succeed to the throne and 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.
A huge thank you to both Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira for sharing their time and thoughts with us. I am hyped about Black Panther, check out my blog post about the Purple Carpet premiere as well as my film review. Come back and let me know in the comments if you are you as hyped about Black Panther as I am? Hurry and grab your tickets, Black Panther will be in theaters everywhere February 16, 2018!!!
Like BLACK PANTHER on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlackPantherMovie
Follow BLACK PANTHER on Twitter: https://twitter.com/theblackpanther
Follow Marvel Studios on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/marvelstudios/
Need a little Black Panther History? Check out my Black Panther 101 Blog post.