Lupita Nyong’o pens moving tribute to Chadwick Boseman: ‘He activated our pride’
The cast and creatives of “Black Panther” are celebrating the life of their onscreen king, Chadwick Boseman, who died Aug. 28 at age 43 after a private battle with colon cancer.
Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, Angela Bassett, Winston Duke, Danai Gurira, Sterling K. Brown, Andy Serkis, Forest Whitaker, production designer Hannah Beachler and director Ryan Coogler have all shared touching tributes to their late friend and colleague, who inspired millions with his acclaimed performance as King T’Challa of Wakanda, a.k.a. Black Panther.
“I write these words from a place of hopelessness, to honor a man who had great hope,” Nyong’o, who played War Dog agent and Boseman’s on-screen love, Nakia, wrote Tuesday on Instagram. “I am struggling to think and speak about my friend, Chadwick Boseman, in the past tense. It doesn’t make sense. The news of his passing is a punch to my gut every morning. I am aware that we are all mortal, but you come across people in life that possess an immortal energy, that seem like they have existed before ... Chadwick was one of those people. ...
“He was fueled by love, not fear. He moved quietly, deliberately and without imposing himself or his ideals on others. And yet he also made damn sure that his life meant something. He was unwavering about that. He cared so deeply about humanity, about Black people, about his people. He activated our pride. By pushing through and working with such high purpose in the films he chose to commit to, Chadwick has made the infinite his home.”
Jordan, who played T’Challa’s rival, Erik Killmonger, also reflected on his relationship with Boseman, dating back to the early days of his career as a teen actor on the long-running soap opera “All My Children.”
“Since nearly the beginning of my career, ... you paved the way for me.... the thing that hurts the most is that I now understand how much of a legend and hero YOU are,” he wrote on Instagram. “Through it all, you never lost sight of what you loved most. You cared about your family, your friends, your craft, your spirit. You cared about the kids, the community, our culture and humanity. You cared about me. You are my big brother, but I never fully got a chance to tell you, or to truly give you your flowers while you were here. ...
“I’m more aware now than ever that time is short with people we love and admire. I’m gonna miss your honesty, your generosity, your sense of humor, and incredible gifts. I’ll miss the gift of sharing space with you in scenes. I’m dedicating the rest of my days to live the way you did. With grace, courage, and no regrets. ‘Is this your king!?’ Yes . he . is! Rest In Power Brother.”
Duke, who played Jabari tribe leader M’Baku, hailed Boseman as not just a Marvel hero, but his personal hero, who “welcomed and created a space for all of us to feel safe, open and bold” on set.
“How do I start to honor a man who I saw as a giant in many ways; with whom I thought I had so much more time,” Duke wrote on Instagram. “I am absolutely devastated by the loss of my friend and hero, Chadwick Boseman...
“I feel sick ... I’m in pain and I can’t believe he’s gone. Chadwick was a lightning rod for me... he gave me direction... when I saw ’42,’ I said, I could be like THIS guy. I knew I belonged because I could see myself in you... that’s what heroes do... they seem familiar because they make it possible for us to see our potential best selves demonstrated through them ... Your heroism is now legend. We’ll carry the load and honor your legacy, the rest of the way! Bless King!”
Bassett, who portrayed Queen Ramonda, was among the first to react to her on-screen son’s death, posting a slideshow of photos and a loving message on social media remembering the time they spent “working, sitting next to each other every morning in makeup chairs, preparing for the day together as mother and son.”
“It was meant to be for Chadwick and me to be connected, for us to be family,” she wrote. “During the premiere party for Black Panther, Chadwick reminded me of something. He whispered that when I received my honorary degree from Howard University, his alma mater, he was the student assigned to escort me that day.
“I am honored that we enjoyed that full circle experience. This young man’s dedication was awe-inspiring, his smile contagious, his talent unreal. So I pay tribute to a beautiful spirit, a consummate artist, a soulful brother...'thou aren’t not dead but flown afar...’. All you possessed, Chadwick, you freely gave. Rest now, sweet prince.”
Brown, who played Boseman’s onscreen uncle, Prince N’Jobu, spoke about his experience working with Boseman on both “Black Panther” and 2017’s “Marshall,” which starred Brown as Joseph Spell and Boseman as Thurgood Marshall.
“If still waters run deep, then Chadwick Boseman was a deep brother,” Brown said in an Instagram video. “Little did I know the whole time that I knew him that he was living with cancer. He was quiet. He was private, but he was still cool. There was a mutual respect and admiration and a willingness to share. ...
“I looked forward to doing many, many more films with him and seeing him on many more red carpets and sharing a lifetime together. And I grieve this loss ... of a young, Black man. And it’s not about racism and police brutality. This one is cancer. But cancer affects my community in a disproportionate way. ... He was just a good dude. He was cool. As goofy as I am, he was equally cool. And he cared. He cared about every line. He cared about every shot. He really, really cared. And he will be missed.”
Gurira, who led Wakanda’s army as Gen. Okoye, remembered Boseman for his “kindness, elegance, diligence and grace” as a leader both on- and offscreen.
“How do you honor a king?” she wrote on Instagram. “Reeling from the loss of my colleague, my friend, my brother. Struggling for words. Nothing feels adequate. I always marveled at how special Chadwick was. Such a pure hearted, profoundly generous, regal, fun guy. My entire job as Okoye was to respect and protect a king. Honor his leadership. Chadwick made that job profoundly easy. ...
“He played great, iconic roles because he possessed inside of himself that connection to greatness to be able to so richly bring them to life. He had a heroic spirit, and marched to the beat of his own drum; hence his excellence as an artist and the incredible courage and determination as he faced life’s challenges; while still guiding us all.”
Serkis, who played arms dealer Ulysses Klaue, was one of multiple cast members who attached #WakandaForever hashtags to their social media statements honoring Boseman.
“It is inconceivable to think you are no longer with us Chad,” he wrote on Instagram. “This world needs you, now perhaps more than ever. Your quiet steel and raging fire beautifully tempered by the fact that you are an honorable, generous, humble human being.
“A natural leader who eloquently and passionately seeks and stands for truth, whose art and life will shine as a beacon of inspiration for generations to come. Peace and love to you, and to your family.”
Whitaker, who counseled Boseman’s T’Challa as Wakandan shaman Zuri, was among those who shared black-and-white photos of Boseman with his signature smile and sent well-wishes to the actor’s loved ones.
“Your light brightened our days,” he wrote on Instagram. “It will continue to brighten our hearts and minds. Let the heavens be blessed as you illuminate the sky. Sending my love and prayers to the family. May god continue to hold you in his everlasting embrace. RIP Chadwick.”
Beachler, who scored a historic Oscar nomination and win for production design on “Black Panther” last year, recalled the ways in which Boseman looked after his co-workers on set and beyond.
“I’d see Chad everyday, he’d go out of his way to ask me, w/ a smile ‘what magical place did you make for me today?’” Beachler tweeted. “He was always uplifting us, he was our king for that year. When I’d see him at events he’d ask, ‘They taken care of you Sis?’
“He’d tell me to make sure to get what I was worth. He always looked out for us, always saw us. I’m praying for his family, and hope they find solace in knowing he’s in the land of peace, he’s home now. Rest In Peace young King, your light will forever shine on us!”
Filmmaker Coogler remembered the day he met Boseman with an emotional tribute celebrating the screen icon’s immeasurable impact as Black Panther and praising the lengths he went to make the seminal film as authentic and meaningful as possible.
“He lived a beautiful life,” Coogler wrote. “And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display. I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks till the end of my days. What an incredible mark he’s left for us. ...
“In African cultures we often refer to loved ones that have passed on as ancestors. Sometimes you are genetically related. Sometimes you are not. ... it is with a heavy heart and a sense of deep gratitude to have ever been in his presence, that I have to reckon with the fact that Chad is an ancestor now. And I know that he will watch over us, until we meet again.”
“Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler paid tribute to Chadwick Boseman in a lengthy statement Sunday morning.
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