Sarah saw Black Panther last night. Her first e-mail to me after her screening was, of course, about Okoye. I’ve BEEN telling y’all about Danai Gurira’s Okoye. People are going to lose their sh-t over Okoye. They are going to be demanding a standalone Okoye film. The same can be said for Letitia Wright’s Shuri or Lupita Nyong’o’s Nakia. Angela Bassett as Queen Ramonda snatches your edges in every scene she’s in. QUEEN. RAMONDA. IS. EVERYTHING. The women of Wakanda are not just sidekicks or love interests. They are this film. They steal the spotlight from T’Challa himself. During the Greatest Press Tour of All Time, the women of Black Panther have done the same.
I had a very on-brand reaction to the March 2018 cover of Essence.
No, YOU'RE crying/ screaming WAKAAANDAAA FORREVERRRR into your phone. pic.twitter.com/EI4SZ0Axv8— Kathleen Newman-Bremang (@KathleenNB) February 13, 2018
Chadwick Boseman, Daniel Kaluuya, Forest Whitaker and Michael Bae Jordan also cover Essence’s new issue but it’s the queens who, once again, shine the brightest. Look at them shine! I don’t want this press tour to end.
Essence asked Angela Bassett about playing Queen Ramonda, a character she had never heard of before the role was offered to her.
"But a queen is a queen is a queen of a Black nation," she says laughing. "Just to have that opportunity to portray that image—me, a little Black girl from the Florida projects."
A little black girl from the Florida projects is playing the Queen of Wakanda and Michelle Obama, girl of the South Side of Chicago has her own official portrait, commissioned by The Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. In the past 48 hours, when I haven’t been crying over the women of Black Panther, I’ve been reading every essay I can find on Michelle Obama’s stunning portrait. To me, this isn’t off-topic. This is how Brittany Packnett for The Cut broke down the significance of Amy Sherald’s Michelle Obama portrait:
Her portrait is an important reminder: Black girls can pursue our purpose. We have permission to be impractical. We need not always be palatable. We are allowed simply to be — and be excellent in our very own way.
The women of Black Panther make me feel the same way. Brittany Packnett is making a specific point about this piece of art but, to me, the Michelle Obama painting and Black Panther exist in the same space, a space which is just for us, the little black girls at heart who now have more relatable, nuanced, powerful aspiration and inspiration to look to than we’ve ever had before.
You can read an excerpt from their Essence feature here. Please enjoy a roundup of the latest Wakanda Week posts on the women of Black Panther below.
Angela Bassett’s sit down with Jess Cagle for PEOPLE.