Superstars Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira took the time to sit with 24 fellow bloggers and I to discuss their roles in the upcoming Marvel film, Black Panther. Out of all the the interviews we were scheduled to have for the #BlackPantherEvent, this one excited me the most. To interview these two powerhouse women, who’ve done amazing things on and off-screen, was an honor.
Danai plays General Okoye, the leader of King T’Challa’s Dora Milaje. Lupita plays Nakia, a Wakandan spy, and former member of the Dora Milaje. Both characters are extremely strong-willed and are determined to make a difference, in their own way. As we sat with Lupita and Danai, we quickly saw our interview turn into a deep discussion about female empowerment.
Here are 10 profound thoughts from Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira:
“I’m an Africanist.”
Danai shared this declaration after being asked how she relates to Okoye. The passion Okoye has for Wakanda, and her job of protecting the kingdom, is something Danai felt a parallel to as a Zimbabwean. Both she and Lupita are proud to be from Africa, and that pride bled into their roles in Black Panther.
“Stepping into a character who’s connected to this traditional ancient way of moving was really amazing, and I loved how they found that for each of us.”
Both Danai and Lupita commented on how not only were they connected to their characters through the words they say in the film, but how they move within the action scenes. There’s a phenomenal scene where Danai gets to play with Okoye’s traditional way of fighting (trailer show below). Danai felt that director Ryan Coolger and the rest of the crew did an amazing job of respecting the actor behind the character, and allowing who they are as people to become a fluid part of this process.
“We occupy our own space, and when going into battle together, everyone has a different strength to bring to the table.”
These invigorating words from Lupita were in reference to how Okoye and Nakia are strong females all on their own, but are a deadly force when they fight together. This simple sentence embodies the female empowerment of today. Every woman has a different strength, and transcendent energy to add to the cause of standing up for what’s right and true. That may sound a bit heavy for a Marvel film, but this is one of the key elements of Black Panther: the strength of women amplified to insurmountable measure.
“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.”
Leave it to Lupita to give us such a multi-leveled view of the strength of women. In an effort to keep this interview recap spoiler-free, I won’t dive deep into how important this quote is, but I will say that these two women, who spent 10 heartfelt minutes with us, showed the true meaning of strength in this film. These women also so the true mean of strength within their everyday input into society.
A big thank you to Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o for speaking with us. Be sure to follow our website updates over the next few weeks for more exclusive interviews with Forest Whitaker, Leticia Wright, Daniel Kaluuya, and more.