Marvel Studios' Black Panther stood out for actor Lupita Nyong'o for presenting "the African experience" as aspirational rather than presenting it as a struggle, for "clickbait." In a wide-ranging interview with Vanity Fair, Black Panther's Nakia actor detailed why the film was so "refreshing."
"In Black Panther, I felt that the African experience was allowed to exist aspirationally," said the Kenyan-Mexican actor. "I think it’s more common in America to hear of the struggle of black people than it is to hear of the success. It’s more of a sensation to have a headline about a struggle, you know? ‘Lupita Shunned by People for Her Hair Texture.’ The struggle through having dark skin is clickbait. So when Black Panther came along...it was so refreshing to work on an African narrative that did not lead with the struggle of being African."
Nyong'o said that she was approached for Black Panther before a script had even been written, but agreed to do it based on a pitch by co-writer/director Ryan Coogler.
"When I choose projects, I want to have faith that as an artist it will speak to a time when it is needed as much as it speaks to me at the time that I make it," Nyong'o said. "I really understood this with Black Panther, when we were making that movie in such a different political climate than the one in which it came out."
Vanity Fair notes that Black Panther was written while Barack Obama was U.S. President, while Donald Trump was inaugurated just days after the film began shooting.
"Ryan was speaking to a future relevance that he could not have predicted," N'yongo said.