×

‘Black Panther’s’ Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o on Wakandan Women and ‘Owning Your Identity’

Almost a year after “Black Panther” first hit theaters, stars Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o — nominated for the Screen Actors Guild’s Best Ensemble award — sat down for Variety‘s Screening Series to discuss the film’s incredible impact.

After Jordan joked that he knew it had become a genuine phenomenon once he “started seeing the memes,” they expressed their love of seeing fans embrace their excitement by dressing the part — whether that means Wakandan cosplay, or their own traditional garb. “I love how personal people make this film,” said Nyong’o, adding that it’s incredible to her that people were “embracing their heritage” whether in the movie theater or while interviewing the cast.

“It’s about owning your identity,” said Jordan.

Both actors had no shortage of praise for Ryan Coogler, the director and co-writer who brought “Black Panther” to such vivid life. “He cares about everything he does,” said Jordan, who counts Coogler as his most frequent collaborator and friend. “He doesn’t get involved with anything he can’t connect with. From ‘Fruitvale Station’ to ‘Black Panther,’ he has the same approach. Everything matters.”

Nyong’o, who plays super spy Nakia, credited Coogler’s respect for the women in his life as the reason why “Black Panther” has so many formidable and distinct female characters. “He was hellbent on having women in his film that reflected the women he grew up around,” she said. “They’re layered, complex, and have agency. And so he really wanted Wakanda to have that, and to be an example of what a society can be like when it allows all its citizens to realize their full potential.”

Now that “Black Panther” has proved the power of representation to the tune of over a billion dollars and countless appreciations, its cast is hopeful that it can be less the exception rather than the rule going forward — but they know that may take some time to become a true reality. “Everything doesn’t happen overnight,” Jordan said. “We crushed a lot of stereotypes in [‘Black Panther’] that really needed to be, and I think the industry really paid attention to that. The next wave of producers, actors, writers, directors, costume designers, sound mixers — there are so many departments that need better representation, and I think this film succeeded on so many different levels that it’s inspiring this new batch [of talent] that’s coming to play … when we look up 5, 10 years from now, I think we’ll such a much different landscape than we have right now.”

More Film

  • Samara Weaving and Adam Brody Big

    'Ready or Not': That Time Samara Weaving Hit Andie MacDowell in the Face

    Samara Weaving didn’t mean to hurt Andie MacDowell, but she did just that while they were rehearsing for their new horror dark comedy “Ready or Not.” “I hit Andie MacDowell in the face by accident,” Weaving says on this week’s episode of “The Big Ticket,” Variety and iHeart’s movie podcast. “It was horrible. It was [...]

  • Aracne

    Chile’s Sanfic, Mexico’s Morbido Fest Pact to Promote Latino Horror (EXCLUSIVE)

    Mexican horror festival Morbido and Chile’s Santiago Intl. Film Festival (Sanfic) have agreed on a long-term collaboration intended to strengthen the genre film industry in Chile and across Latin America. This partnership will see Morbido representatives attend the Sanfic industry section each year to aid in the promotion of horror projects and advise those projects [...]

  • Tom Holland'Spider-Man: Homecoming' film premiere, Arrivals,

    Tom Holland Addresses Spider-Man’s Studio Divorce at D23: ‘I Love You 3000’

    British actor Tom Holland showed face on the main stage at D23 on Saturday, in the thick of an ugly studio battle over the rights to his iconic Marvel character Spider-Man. Headlines have been rolling in for days about the contentious battle for the cinematic future of the hero, after Sony Pictures became unwilling to [...]

  • Soul Movie

    Pixar's 'Soul' Announces Voice Cast: Jamie Foxx, Tina Fey to Star

    Disney debuted a first look at upcoming Pixar film “Soul” at the D23 expo in Anaheim, Calif. and announced its star-studded voice cast. “Soul” imagines that every person on earth comes pre-installed with a soul formed and perfected in a cosmic realm. Jamie Foxx will play a middle-school music teacher on earth who dreams of [...]

  • Emma Stone Variety Actors on Actors

    First Look at Emma Stone in Disney's Live-Action 'Cruella' Drops

    Emma Stone’s Cruella de Vil is significantly more punk rock than her animated counterpart. Stone appeared via video message to debut the first look of the titular character in Disney’s “Cruella” at D23 on Saturday, also revealing that it will take place in the punk rock era of the 1970s. In the first photo, Stone [...]

  • ‘Mulan’ Star Skips D23 Press Amid

    'Mulan' Star Crystal Yifei Liu Skips D23 Amid International Controversy

    Crystal Yifei Liu, the star of Disney’s live action remake of “Mulan,” skipped the press line and Disney panel at Disney’s D23 expo Saturday in the heat of the #BoycottMulan controversy. Unlike the other portions of the Saturday Disney panel, which featured both stars and directors for the other films presented, the “Mulan” panel was [...]

  • Marvel Stars Want Tom Holland's Spider-Man

    Marvel Stars Want to Keep Tom Holland's Spider-Man in the MCU

    Marvel fans aren’t the only ones heartbroken that Tom Holland’s Spider-Man might not be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe anymore. “It really is sad. First off, he’s the greatest Spider-Man to me. He actually has that youthful energy,” Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Scarlet Witch in the MCU, told Variety at D23 on Friday. “He’s been [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content