In a world where women are not always given the same opportunities as men, a film that shows powerful women breaking down gender barriers deserves celebration.
Audiences are gearing up to see the highly-anticipated Marvel film Black Panther, and for all the right reasons. In addition to having a predominantly African-American cast, the film features an ensemble of vital female characters. Fierce warriors, a powerful queen, and a young genius don’t just work beside the hero — they are heroes themselves.
The film’s stars are just as excited for the film. Here’s what some of them are saying about the powerful female characters they bring to life:
1. Danai Gurira
Danai Gurira — a ONE member and supporter of the #PovertyIsSexist campaign — understands the power of representation in empowering young girls.
In Black Panther, Gurira plays Okoye, head of an all-female special forces group, the Dora Milaje. She works closely with the king, T’Challa, to ensure his safety and protect the nation’s citizens. Seeing a woman in such a prominent position will be valuable for young viewers, according to Gurira.
“The idea that little girls can look at those who are closest to their leader and see they are women. And see these women walk the streets and be in charge…It’s something so important to preserve;” she said in an interview with Elle. “That little girl needs to be able to grow up and become an Okoye, or a Shuri, or a Nakia.”
2. Lupita Nyong’o
Lupita Nyong’o plays Naika, a member of a special team that travels to the outside world to gather information for Black Panther‘s fictional kingdom of Wakanda.
Nyong’o told toofab that Black Panther breaks down female stereotypes by showing women “going about our business, supporting each other, having other points of view but still not being against each other.”
“The fact that 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.”
3. Angela Bassett
It takes immense power to be Queen Mother of Wakanda, which is why Angela Bassett fits the role perfectly as Ramonda. She plays a proud mother on screen, and shows her pride in her fellow cast members off-screen.
“It’s a lot of strength and balance and beauty and I’m just thrilled by getting to work with Danai and Lupita and actresses and brand new faces across the diaspora; it was beautifully cast,” Bassett told toofab. “It’s going to be quite a sight and I think it’s going to be magnetic.”
4. Letitia Wright
Shuri, Princess of Wakanda and inventor extraordinaire, is one of the most intelligent people in the world. As the leader of the Wakandan Design Group, she creates the incredible technology used by her brother, T’Challa.
In real life, Africa has been seeing a rise of girls in tech. For example, in Kenya, the introduction of NairoBits has empowered more girls to learn computer skills. The country will also be represented at this year’s Technovation competition, thanks to five incredible girls who invented an app to end FGM. Letitia Wright, who plays Shuri in the movie, hopes Black Panther will inspire even more young women to pursue tech.
“She’s (Shuri) so vibrant; a beautiful spirit, but also so focused on what she does,” Wright said in an interview with comicbook.com. “And that’s good for other people to see, especially young people to see, because it’s like, ‘Look, there’s a young black girl who loves technology and she’s from Africa.’ It’s something refreshing.”
International Women’s Day is just around the corner, and it looks like audiences will have some new role models to celebrate. Which of these characters inspires you the most? Leave a comment below!