I was invited on an all expense paid trip by Disney to attend the Red Carpet Black Panther World Premiere. During that time, I also had the opportunity to attend the Black Panther Press Conference.
Following our magical evening at the Black Panther World Premiere, we attended an exciting press conference with most of the cast, along with the Director and Producer of Black Panther. The Moderator was none other than Nischelle Turner from Entertainment Tonight, who was totally ready to fan-girl just like the rest of us. Who was in attendance? Kevin Feige – Producer, Ryan Coogler – Writer and Director, Forest Whitaker – Zuri, Angela Bassett – Ramonda, Chadwick Boseman – T’Challa/Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan – Erik Killmonger, Lupita Nyong’o – Nakia, Danai Gurira – Okoye, Letitia Wright – Shuri, Daniel Kaluuya – W’Kabi, Andy Serkis – Ulysses Klaue, Martin Freeman – Agent Ross, Winston Duke – M’Baku.
Black Panther Press Conference
There were some many question and so many beautiful answers throughout the press conference, from the moderator as well as from the press. I’m going to do my best by sharing the best of the best so that this post isn’t too overwhelming, but I will share another post – which I’ll link to later, where you can read all the questions and answers I don’t cover here at your leisure!
Nischelle was quite entertaining, saying basically what we were all thinking…
“I’m still trying to get my life together after last night. I don’t know about you guys. I went to bed in the land of Wakanda. I woke up still in the land of Wakanda. I could not get this movie off my mind, when I saw it. And I know you guys were so excited.”
Nischelle took the time to allow to speak to each cast member and ask them many of the questions we all had on our minds too!
NT: Lupita, when they were introducing you all last night before the Black Panther World Premiere screening started, you did like this little dance of excitement, and I felt like she can barely contain herself, she’s so excited. What was going through your mind, and how were you feeling when you knew the lights were about to go down, and we were about to experience Black Panther?
Lupita: I mean, I’d been waiting a long time for this. And I was just so, so, so excited, because this was a movie that we all felt a lot of ownership of, and that we thoroughly enjoyed making. And you know, when you make a movie like this of this scale, so much happens between the time you perform it and the time you see it, all the computer graphics stuff. Wakanda was built in a room with Ryan and the incredible design team. And so to see it alive, to see it almost like three dimensional was what I was looking forward to. And of course, to see it with everyone.
NT: Why Chadwick for Black Panther?
Kevin: I think you hear people say this all the time when you’re in a setting like this. But he was the only choice. We were – it may not have been this fast, but in my memory, we were sitting around a table, we were coming up with the story for Civil War – Nate Moore, our executive producer, suggested bringing in Black Panther, because we were looking for sort of a third party who wouldn’t necessarily side with Cap or side with Ironman. And almost instantly, we all said Chadwick. And in my memory, although maybe it was the next day, we got him on a speaker phone right then. And he was in the back of a limo, and – where were you, in Switzerland?
Chadwick: We were in Zurich. And I was coming off of the red carpet for Get On Up. My agent was like, ‘You’ve got to get on the phone.’ And the crazy thing is I didn’t even have international calling on my phone until that morning, literally we heard somebody say, ‘Hey, get international on your phone. Call your mom.’ It’s some important stuff, literally, that happened, and then that night he called.
NT: I told you (Ryan) this last night, but it was five years ago, right about now, that I met you when you came to Sundance, and you were doing Fruitvale Station. No one knew who you were. I remember, you, Forest, Michael B. Jordon – all of you all, and it was like – Forest, I think I even remember you saying, ‘Like, this man is the truth. Just wait ‘til you see what he’s going to be able to do.’
Forest: I knew it from the moment that I met him. When he started to express himself, and I could feel the center of what he wanted to communicate to the world, and how he wanted to touch the world, and it really was a really powerful thing to see. Then when he started to talk to me about his ideas – at that time, he was in school, I remember thinking, this person if he’s given the right space he’s going to do something that can change our lives in some way. I thought that Fruitvale was that thing. That was the thing that he suggested, one of the projects he had, and really believed in it. And I was fortunate enough that he felt comfortable with us producing that for him and working with him on it. I’m just blown away just watching his growth every time to see him really – how he’s able to just manifest so much importance, in socially relevant moments, inside of things that we want to sit and watch. It’s been quite a powerful experience for me last night to watch that.
NT: This goes to Angela, Letitia, Danai, and Lupita. This film is Black Panther, but I feel like it really could have been called The Bad-Ass Women of Wakanda. For real. So thank you, Ryan, for that, because ladies, I mean – ladies. I was so proud, and so excited. And the woman next to me literally turned to me last night and said, ‘Why are you smilin’ so big?’ And I was like, ‘Because, look at these women. Look at them.’ I mean, how proud were you all to look on the screen and see yourselves in that last night? Giving props to the ladies of Wakanda. But how proud of you all were – to see yourselves up, being so powerful, and so beautiful, and so regal on that screen?
Angela: Extraordinarily so. And so pleased that this story written by Ryan, and Joe Robert Cole, and Marvel, that it 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 there last night, because in their faces, and in their spirit – and they were feeling themselves. And they stood taller after last night.
NT: And they were fully developed female characters, too, which in a lot of movies, and sometimes comics have a kind of weird history sometimes with female characters – these were fully developed women in this movie, which I loved.
Danai: 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. You don’t actually get sat down and hear that type of a vision. And then it embodied with us being on the continent, women from the continent, but very developed, very complex. It was amazing. I mean, it was just like, this is going to be, this is something else – I just want to watch it. I get to be in it? I just want to watch this. The idea of Dora Milaje, the whole concept of them, and then to see them come to life, and then these astounding women who I started training with. One by one, I was the first one to get my head shaved, in theory it sounded amazing. And then the day came and I was like, ‘Was it today?’ I had a ‘fro, and then it happened. You go into the restroom to wash your hands, and you look up, you go, ‘And what the….’. It took a few days, then all the girls started coming in, we’d all been balded, one by one. Everybody got their caps on and then the pride started to grow.
This pride around it, and this sort of embracing of this – this sort of symbol of power in these women. And then beauty of how he wrote that moment – I loved that moment where she doesn’t want a wig. She doesn’t want to cover up. This is her joy, and her pride, is in walking in with that bald head with that tattoo on it. It was so subversive in the right way, to say that’s necessarily beauty. You don’t have to have hair to be beautiful. There’s so many great things I could say about how Ryan developed these women characters, and allowed us to collaborate that I feel really blessed about, and excited.
NT: Well y’all had me in the gym at six o’clock this morning. And I’m not even kiddin’. I Instagrammed and I said, ‘I’m trying to get like Lupita.’
Nischelle then turned over the questioning to the press in the audience. I tried feverishly to get a mic passed to me, but it was a large room with lots of people and not an easy feat. Luckily Ari from Love, Peace and Tiny Feet (one of our crew) had a chance to ask a question, and even was quoted in an article the next day!
Ari from Love, Peace and Tiny Feet: I can say as a Liberian, the first generation of Liberian American, I felt that pride seeing this movie ‘cause it’s definitely not the Africa I grew up seeing on TV. My question is for Chadwick. I read that it was especially important for you to have Black Panther speak in an African accent. Can you elaborate on that a little bit as far as your thoughts are for this and why it was so important?
Chadwick: That’s a lot. I will try to be as quick as possible. You know I think as actors this is separate from the movie, but there is, when you’re trained you’re trained very often from a European perspective. What is considered great or classical is very often British and it’s certain writers and I happen to come from a background that does not believe that. I went to Oxford to study, but I went to Howard and we were taught to respect our writers and our classics just as much and believe that it takes the same skill level and same technique and sometimes techniques that are a little bit different to pull that off. And so I think you have to be, you have to tell the stories and be true to yourself as an artist. And in this there’s no reason for it because there was a time period where people were asking me questions about whether or not an audience could sit through a movie with a lead character who spoke with that accent. And it was not Kevin by the way, so just making sure you know that. People outside Marvel as well and so I became adamant about the fact that that is not true. That the intonations and melodies inside an African accent are just as classical as a British one or a European one and that all of the emotions and aspects of a character can be shown and expressions can be shown through that accent and we have to take this opportunity to show that and he just wouldn’t, if he had never been conquered, if his ancestors had never been conquered and he’s never been conquered and Wakanda is what it is, he doesn’t have to go to Oxford to study. He doesn’t have to go to Cambridge or Yale or any place to study. He actually got his education at home and he would not then assimilate a language that is the colonizer’s language in order to speak to his people. So he had to speak with an African accent.
NT: Chadwick, you think she’s (Shuri) smarter than Black Panther?
Chadwick: I allow it. I allow her to be.
Letitia: What I love about it with how it was written is that the men are always behind the women. So no one’s undermined. The men aren’t saying ‘You shouldn’t be in technology, and you shouldn’t be in math.’ They’re saying, ‘No, go ahead.’ Like, so T’Challa is like, ‘Go ahead, Sis. This is your department. This is your domain. Kill it. ‘I’m gonna work with you to finalize it,’ – cause he’s dope. Then it’s ‘Just do your thing. Stay in your lane.’ That’s the mentality of the king, and that’s brilliant. So everybody’s got their own lane. But she’s cooler than him, but not smarter than him.
Chadwick: I want to speak to that. I think when you talk about what Wakanda is, and what it would have to be in order to progress to the place that we saw – 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 that. So even though we’re in the same generation, she’s my younger sister, she benefits from whatever I have reached. So you want your sons and daughters to be better than you were. S that concept is a Wakandan concept. ,My older siblings, they raised me. And so to a certain degree when I say I allow her – I’m meaning it like, you see the genius that is inside the people that come after you. And if you have an ancestor around, they’re looking at you like, ‘I know you’re looking up to me, but we’re looking up to you.’ That is an African concept.
Lupe with CineMovie: This film is pretty radical. Can you talk about how far did you want to take it and keeping it a level where it’s not too radical, but at the same time you’re presenting a lot of very relevant social themes like isolationism and a lot of societal issues.
Kevin: Well I think it’s happened for the comics, it’s happened with the movie. Ryan wrote this for the most part, you know, a year and a half ago, two years ago so things have happened in the world which makes the film seem more relevant. There are other things in the film that have been relevant for centuries, but the truth of the matter is Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the whole Marvel bullpen created Wakanda and created T’Challa and created Black Panther and made him a smarter, more accomplished character than any of the other white characters in the mid 1960s. So they had the guts to do that in the mid 1960s. The least we can do is live up to that and allow this story to be told the way it needed to be told and not shy away from things that the Marvel founders didn’t shy away from in the height of the civil rights era.
Dovetta with Black Girl Nerds: This question is for Bilbo (Martin) and Gollum (Andy), I saw them hiding over there. You’re in this incredible experience with all of the African talent, African descendants talent, actors behind the cameras, crew, how did that or will it do you think affect your world view and your view as artists from your culture?
Andy: Actually we were just talking about that earlier on and it was very funny ‘cause you reminded me of a story of Ryan saying to us before we were about to do our scene. Ryan came up to us and said I’ve never actually directed two white actors before. And probably not, probably ever, it was hilarious, it was kind of hilarious, but at the same time it was just like that’s tragic, you know. It was kind of insane and kind of like weird, but it really was, I mean it was an incredible experience working with Ryan. He is one of the most brilliant, wonderful, warm, humble, incredibly clever, articulate visionary directors and just to be part of this was just, well for me, I mean I don’t know what you thought of it.
Martin: I hated it.
Andy: Did you? [Laughs]
Martin: I felt bullied. Of course, yes, I agree. I was joking.
Andy: No, it was just an incredible experience and to be part of it was and I just think this film is so important and to be able to be part of something that is so groundbreaking and yes should have been made many years ago, but now is the time and now is a brilliant time because things are changing rapidly in every single aspect of film making and so it should and the needle should swing right the other way because we need to really change things.
Debbie Elias from Behind the Lens: Martin, you get to have a role that we’ve seen with other people such as Clark Greg in the Marvel universe morph into something great. You’ve really morphed here. Can you talk about the experience of being Agent Ross and actually becoming a hero in his own right?
Martin: Yeah, no, that was lovely and I have spoken to Ryan a bit about that sort of in the process before filming. And we both agreed that we didn’t want him just to be a schmuck and we didn’t want him just to be a comic foil; that it needs to be a little bit more 3D than that and I was very pleased when I was reading bits of the script and then new bits of the script that were coming in. They were making it more emphatic, a more sympathetic and a bit more can do because clearly it’s not Agent Ross’s film by a long way, but he plays his part and there is sort of an ambivalence about Ross I think ‘cause you’re not quite sure if he’s gonna be down with T’Challa or not, but he ends up with, well he ends up having his eyes opened by this country that he knew nothing about and a civilization that he knew nothing about and realizing that it had something to offer and that he went away learning a bit from it. So I was very pleased that Ross had his kind of moment of heroism at the end. He gets in his plane and he gets to help out. He has his little Hans Solo moment.I was really pleased and I thought that was generous on the film’s part and I thought it was, ‘cause like Andy says we’re not short of white heroes in movies, so I thought to make one of the two white characters, a bit of a hero I thought spoke very well of them actually.
Lupita: Well I would say 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 sense of power and our own agency and we hold our own space without being pitted against each other. And I think that’s a very, very powerful message to send to children, both male and female this idea. I think often times 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 and stuff like that and this film freezes all that. And we see women going about their business and supporting each other, even arguing with each other; having different points of view, but still not being against each other and I think that’s extremely important and 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 and we see women along side men and we see how much more effective a society can be if they allow women to explore their full potential.
About Black Panther
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.
BLACK PANTHER stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. The film is directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by Kevin Feige with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Nate Moore, Jeffrey Chernov and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole wrote the screenplay.
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