Every actor in Black Panther (except for maybe living legends Angela Bassett and Forest Whitaker) can look at their careers in two parts: BBP and ABP, as in Before Black Panther and After Black Panther. Sure, Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya and my man Michael B. Jordan all had great careers before this movie BUT starring in a record-breaking box office SMASH like Black Panther has catapulted each of them into a different realm of celebrity and thus, opportunity. Chadwick and Lupita were well-respected Serious Actors BBP but now, they’re bona fide superheroes capable of carrying a franchise (Lupita’s role in Star Wars is often overlooked.) If Danai and Daniel were at risk of being forever known as Michonne from The Walking Dead and Chris from Get Out respectively, there’s no chance of that anymore. I’ve had to release my Michael Bae Jordan into the world ABP since everyone with a pulse is thirsting for him after seeing Killmonger shirtless. He’s also got Creed 2 and another Coogler co-production in the works. Right now, he’s the hottest young actor in Hollywood. As for Letitia Wright and Winston Duke? Well, Shuri and M’Baku are relatively unknowns no more.
One of my favourite post-Black Panther pastimes is following what each of these incredible talents is going to do next. This is another important thing about representation. Each of these black actors who in years past would be scrounging to play the same tired stereotypical roles are now sought-after entities, with the chance to create content they believe in – that is, if studios are smart enough to invest in them. Maybe I’m being naively optimistic but after the ridiculous amount of money Black Panther made, haven’t they proven that they’re good investments?
Which brings me to Lupita Nyong’o’s new role. It was just announced that she’ll be starring in Trevor Noah’s autobiography Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood. She’ll play Trevor’s mom Patricia, who raised her mixed-race son during Apartheid when children born of interracial relationships were illegal. She was also shot in the head by Trevor’s stepfather in 2009 and survived. It’s a fascinating story that sounds like the perfect vehicle for Lupita’s talents. It also has lit a fire under me to pick up my copy of Born a Crime off my bookshelf and finally read it. Lupita is not only starring in Born a Crime, she’s also producing it. After that, she’s set to finally star and co-produce the long-awaited Americanah – one of my all-time favourite books— adaptation with a script written by Danai Gurira. Being the star and producer of films affords power on set that few actresses get, especially not black actresses. Lupita Nyong’o is parlaying her ABP buzz into really exciting work. I can’t f-cking wait.