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Sea-change moment: Chadwick Boseman on ‘Black Panther’ success

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Actor Chadwick Boseman believes the success of "Black Panther" has led to a moment of reckoning in the entertainment industry as it has forced people to change their attitudes towards black people and their stories. The 41-year-old who portrays Marvel's first black superhero, channelled the character's spirit on the Rolling Stone cover for which he went shirtless.

"It's a sea-change moment," Boseman told the magazine, adding, ''I still remember the excitement people had seeing Malcolm X. And this is greater, because it includes other people, too.''

Boseman also talked about the Hollywood double-standards where the producers would go to great lengths to find an immensely talented white actor but do not make the same commitment to find a equally talented black actor. "Every year, agents fly to Australia to find the next great white actor. But where are they taking 14-hour flights to find the next black person?"

"There's a lot of great things happening. If you think about Barry (Jenkins), Ava (DuVernay), Ryan (Coogler), it's a renaissance of black film. But it's still not enough. It's a numbers thing. If you have 15 shots, I got three. If you have nine chances to mess up, I have one. Each one of us knows that if you mess up, your career is done. I see the intensity. I see how Ryan is. If you have a dud, you'll never work in this town again," he added.

He believes the black culture has an abundance of stories that can be showed on-screen, yet are still untouched. "There's a plethora of stories in our culture that haven't been told, because Hollywood didn't believe they were viable. It would be cool to see slices of history that you haven't seen with African figures. Like Africans in Europe - the Moors in Spain. Or if you go to Portugal, they have statues of black people all over the place. So not only have we been here, but we've directly affected everything that you think is European.''

He also acknowledged the budget and manpower that went into the making of the film given it has a virtually all-black star cast. "The money and manpower it takes to create this entire African world -- it's a huge production. But this is not Star Wars --this is a black superhero movie!"

Boseman said what appealed to him in the film was that it had predominately black actors and was set in Africa. "Some (black) actors will say, 'I don't want to play a character just because he's black.' And that's great, I'm not saying they're wrong. But that's missing all the richness that's been whitewashed.”

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