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

The Woman King Cast
The Woman King cast (Top Left) Viola Davis
(Top Right) Lashana Lynch/ Featureflash + Dreamtime, (Bottom Left) Sheila Atim/Jo Davidson + Shutterstock, {Bottom Right)Thuso Mbedu + Getty Images, (Center) Adrienne Warren

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.

During the cast’s interview with Essence, each actress dished out how the film gave them perspective in addition to life experiences.
Viola Davis
Viola Davis + Getty Images
Davis told Vanity Fair, per Oprah Daily, that prior to doing the film, she knew nothing about the history of the warriors. She also admitted how she had to flesh out non-flattering editorial comments when it came to reading related material originated by a “white man,”
“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.
She added,
“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.”

The Cast of Film The Woman King
John Boyega, Director Gina Prince-Bythewood, Viola Davis, Lashana Lynch, & Sheila Atim

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,

Lashana Lynch
Lashana Lynch + Getty Images/Disney Studios
“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].
Adrienne Warren
Adrienne Warren + Getty Images
Warren, who made a splash by playing the influential Mamie Till on ABC’s Women of the Movement, enjoyed the camaraderie and sisterhood among the cast,
“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.”
Sheila Atim
Sheila Atim + Rex Features/Shutterstock
Ugandan-British actress Atim highlighted working alongside Black actresses across the diaspora,

“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.”

Thuso Mbedu
Thuso Mbedu/Kevin Winter + Getty Images

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.”

Check out the trailer below. The film hits theaters near you on September 16.


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Emil Flemmon

Èmil Flemmon is the Managing Editor for the 360 Baseline Movement. The Atlanta-based editor, red carpet interviewer, writer, and photographer, has had a career spanning over a decade in the editorial industry. His work has been featured in Kontrol Magazine, The Atlanta Voice, Blavity, Aspire TV, REVOLT, The Jasmine Brand, and Where Y'at Magazine in New Orleans. His mission is to help journalists and publicists have better connectivity and relationships exclusively through the movement.

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