Michaela Coel on Playing Queer 'Black Panther: Wakanda Forever' Warrior: 'That Sold Me on the Role'

"I thought: I like that, I want to show that to Ghana."

Michaela Coel is opening up about her upcoming starring role in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

In an interview with Vogue for the publication’s November 2022 cover story, the 35-year-old actress shared that she was “sold” on joining the cast of the Marvel film after discovering that her character is queer.

Kevin Feige Explains Decision to Not Recast Chadwick Boseman In Black Panther Wakanda Forever

In “Wakanda Forever,” which is out next month, Coel stars as Aneka, a captain and combat instructor of the Dora Milaje, Wakanda’s all-female warrior unit. In the comics, the character falls in love with Ayo, another Dora Milaje warrior — who is played by Florence Kasumba in the MCU. It’s unclear how or if Aneka and Ayo’s relationship will be portrayed on screen.

Coel — whose parents are Ghanian — said the impact of playing a queer character in a movie that’s set in Africa is what ultimately prompted her to take on the role in “Wakanda Forever,” as Ghana and many African countries have strict anti-gay legislation.

“That sold me on the role, the fact that my character’s queer. I thought: I like that, I want to show that to Ghana,” she told Vogue. “People say, ‘Oh, it’s fine, it’s just politics.’ But I don’t think it is just politics when it affects how people get to live their daily lives. That’s why it felt important for me to step in and do that role because I know just by my being Ghanaian, Ghanaians will come.”

The Emmy winner also reflected on the impact of the first film, “Black Panther,” telling Vogue, “I think for a lot of people it was the first time we’d seen some sort of representation on a very mainstream platform about the magic of Africa, the magic of the people, our ancestors. Coming here, you do feel something magical.”

Coel originally auditioned for the 2018 movie, which was directed and co-written by Ryan Coogler, who also helms the sequel. The “Chewing Gum” star attended the London premiere of the 2018 film, with Vogue writing that Coogler “already had his eye” on Coel before she attended the event.

Speaking to Vogue, the filmmaker praised the actress, saying, “Aneka, the character Michaela plays, is kind of a rebel. It made a lot of meta sense with Michaela being someone who is pushing the industry forward and carving out her own space.”

Coel also went on to open up about joining the cast following the death of Chadwick Boseman, who, of course, originated the role of King T’Challa aka Black Panther in the MCU.

“It felt like the entire cast was processing grief,” she said of the passing of Boseman, who died in August 2020 following a battle with colon cancer. “There was a sense that we have to bring this baby home in the name of Chadwick. I thought to myself, I’m rolling up my sleeves and I’m getting in. I don’t need to be front and center, I’m here to support.”

The November 2022 issue of Vogue arrives on newsstands on October 18. “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” hits theaters on November 11.

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