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Viola Davis said, “No more Michelle Obama jokes, but act like you know.”
The Oscar-winning actress is strapping on her warrior boots for the film, The Woman King. Co-stars Lashana Lynch (Captain Marvel), Thuso Mbedu (The Underground Railroad), Sheila Atim (Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness), and Adrienne Warren (Women of the Movement) joined Davis for Essence’s September digital cover.
We all know how great of an actress Davis is and her co-stars are just as magical for on-screen storytelling. However, how much do you know about this film? Are you motivated to check it out?
A Brief History of The Woman King
Davis plays General Nanisca, the leader of female warriors assigned to defend the African Kingdom of Dahomey.
From 1818 to 1858, King Ghezo (John Boyega) created the Dahomey warriors during his monarchy when male laborers were limited because of the European slave trade.
According to BBC Travel, speculation hints that a queen by the name of Hangbe ruled prior to Ghezo’s reign and assembled the Dahomey amazons as personalized bodyguards.
On to the Big Screen for the Adaptation
The film is inspired by true events and based on the trailer, it’s ready to deliver empowerment, sisterhood, and community much like the cast’s cover shot. Check out some behind-the-scenes footage of the regal cover.
“The only thing I knew [before working on the film], literally, was that there were women somewhere in Africa that were called Amazons,” the actress said.
“I had to cross out a lot of it because it was full of editorial comments like, ‘They looked like beasts. They were ugly. They were mannish.’ You had to sift through all of that.”
When it came to stamping her name on the project, the acclaimed actress wasn’t sold off the bat,
“The important part of this story is –I’m saying this now because it’s been almost eight years — I would say at the time it didn’t hit me. Not the story. The story hit me. The possibility of the story seeing light did not hit me.”
Lynch expressed her gratitude for the film’s telling of women of color despite the rejection she’s received in Hollywood for lacking a certain look,
“I’m just really grateful that all of my experiences and all of the no’s and all of the complications and all of the ‘We’re going with a white girl, a lighter girl, a short girl, a more experienced girl–’ we’ll go with all of those girls because they, aesthetically, make more sense than the tall, Black, curvy, short-haired, dark skin girl from London who doesn’t dot her i’s and cross her t’s all the time, and who has opinions [got me here].
“Our togetherness is resistance. We are so much stronger together. I didn’t know I had sisters in places. That’s how it felt being on this set. My sisters have multiplied…we’re Black women.”
“I personally felt so enriched by being able to work with people who weren’t Black British or even who were Black British but have a different heritage from me, for us to all be in the same place. I learned from everyone and I hope that people learned from me as well.”
31-year-old actress Mbedu embraced the doubts she had while doing the film. However, she gave praise to Davis for helping her feel at ease saying,
“My biggest takeway is that I really am stronger than I think…I thank you [Viola] for seeing me. Because even now I don’t think I see myself.”