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Lupita N’yongo Opening Night Curtain Call Photo via Eclipsed Broadway

We’re barely into the year & 2017 is already more black and beautiful than ever! We opened the new year with Hidden Figures smashing the box office and the 2017 Golden Globes being rich with melanin. To top all that, we got casting news from the upcoming Black Panther movie. Now, the mere existence of a Black Panther film is enough to start my stanning, but let’s talk about the cast. The upcoming Marvel film boasts pretty big names, but we at Broadway Black would like to highlight the theatre’s finest.

In the upcoming Marvel film, Lupita N’yongo, the keeper of Grace and stealer of hearts, will star as Dora Milaje Nakia. The Milaje, or “Adored Ones,” are wives-in-training, women selected from their tribes to defend and serve the Wakandan king. Just last year, we watched as Lupita thrived in Eclipsed on Broadway. Of course, Lupita’s revolutionary performance left critics singing the praises of Lupita and the show’s all-black, all-female cast. I see this for N’yongo through and through! The Yale graduate’s natural talent and nineteen year career has gifted her with the grace and depth to bring Nakia to life. Honestly, who doesn’t want to see Lupita throw hands?

While Lupita’s character is likely to get lost in love, Danai Gurira‘s will give us the unbothered black girl Marvel needs. Gurira will play Okoye, also a Milaje, but unlike Nakia, Okoye is more concerned about the safety of the kingdom than the heart of the king. Gurira’s career is one that constantly celebrates the strength of African women. This role will be no sweat for our Broadway veteran.

Danai Gurira Opening Night of Eclipsed on Broadway Photo by: Andrew Shade

Gurira’s significance goes far beyond The Walking Dead! She is also the writer of several plays, including Eclipsed. Her fearless work has turn heads everywhere from Yale to The Great White Way. She’s already revolutionized the theatre in our real world, I can’t wait to see the damage she’ll do in Marvel’s.

N’yongo & Gurira will join Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger, & Daniel Kaluuya as W’Kabi,

Angela Bassett, who made her Broadway debut in 1988 with August Wilson‘s Joe Turner’s Come & Gone, will portray Ramonda. Bassett returned to Broadway in 2011 with Katori Hall‘s The Mountain Top.

Forest Whitaker will play Zuri. You may remember that he made his Broadway debut last year with Eugene O’Neill’s Hughie.

Phylicia Rashad in Head of Passes – Photo via Public Theater

Finally, I must  give rest to the rumors. Phylicia Rashad, Mother of Blackness and Broadway alike, will not be joining the Black Panther cast. The rumors came of the heels  of Sterling K. Brown’s casting as N’Jobu and were further fueled by Rashad’s previous work with Ryan Coogler, the movie’s director, in Creed.

For a few, I loved the idea of Phylicia Rashad joining the Black Panther cast. Phylicia Rashad consistently delivers strong performances. Her 2004 portrayal of Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun earned her the title of the first black actress to win a Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. Phylicia Rashad is tireless in her dedication to making bold moves and inspiring radical change. I’m sure her character will be no different.

So here we go, we’ve got some time before the 2018 release of the film. But until then, I hope I’ve done my due diligence in getting you as excited for this movie as I am. It’s the year of Black Excellence, folks. Tell us, what fearless moves are you making in 2017?

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