After collecting the Screen Actors Guild Award for best ensemble in a motion picture, the cast of “Black Panther” talked backstage Sunday evening about what made the Marvel superhero film so special.
Danai Gurira, who plays Okoye, the general leading an all-female group of warriors protecting the fictional country of Wakanda, said that in addition to very powerful female characters, the movie spoke to the idea of excellence.
“When people are allowed to actualize their potential, we can become more and more excellent,” Gurira said.
Chadwick Boseman, who plays the Black Panther, T’Challa, said he didn’t think audiences truly understood the level of artistry involved in production design, costuming and hair-and-makeup and the other technical work involved in creating the elaborate world of Wakanda.
“It’s the equivalent of someone doing a period piece, in fact, it’s more difficult,” Boseman said backstage at the Shrine Auditorium. “It’s throughout the diaspora, it’s all weaved together” from a variety of countries and cultures and time periods.
The fact that “it’s not all CGI, the waterfall was built, the throne was built” informs the depths of the performances, the actor told reporters.
Boseman was asked to elaborate on onstage comments about being young, gifted and black.
“That’s one of my favorite songs, it’s one of my favorite sayings in poetry,” Boseman said. “It speaks to the fact that you have the same dreams as other people … but you don’t necessarily have the same doors open to you, the same nepotism. … (You) don’t have family members who have ever achieved the same things” you aspire to.
He said acting is a difficult craft for everyone who pursues it, but the work is tougher for people of color, who have been relegated to playing sidekicks.
“Some people, they’re the first person to graduate from college … to be young, gifted and black is all of that, it’s to have everything but then to not quite be able to grasp it,” Boseman said.
Asked if the cast was wary that any sequel could fall short of expectations, Michael B. Jordan, who plays supervillain Erik Killmonger, was confident.
“To be able to build on that legacy … if there’s an opportunity … it would be a tremendous accomplishment,” Jordan said, calling “Black Panther” a “movie that stands against all film across the boards.”