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Winston Duke: Black Panther’s diverse casting ‘will and should impact’ how Hollywood creates lead characters

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Oct 29, 2018

With Marvel’s Black Panther getting some early Oscar buzz, it’s not surprising that the massively popular blockbuster is being revisited and reexamined several months after its February opening. As such, Black Panther star Winston Duke recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about how the film "will and should impact the way Hollywood views the creation of their lead characters," particularly when casting "oppressed peoples" and women.

"This movie didn’t say we were a monolith," said Duke, who played M’Baku. "The structure has always been, ‘You’re kind of all the same.’ You have a leading man frame, you have a leading man feel, but there’s only room for one. That’s usually how it’s felt in the past. So, it can’t be Michael B. Jordan and Chadwick Boseman and Winston Duke and Daniel Kaluuya." 

But all of those actors were in the Ryan Coogler-directed film, and since the movie "did a beautiful job of highlighting our differences," Duke noted that "it’s showing us that there’s room for all of us."

"When it comes to oppressed peoples who throughout history have found culture and all these different things edifying to be a big part of who they are, you’re going to have to have narratives that reflect that," he added.

Duke said the same thing goes for women in Hollywood. While he argues that "some people could have thought" that there only needs to be one "strong, trained dark-skinned" woman in the film, Duke pointed out that having two very different characters played by Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong'o with "wonderful skill sets that are equally valid … we get to celebrate their differences."

Duke believes that the success of Black Panther, which broke all sorts of box-office records, will be changing the way Hollywood casts and makes films. 

"It’s going to change," he said. "It has to change. This is a business first and foremost, so it speaks in a language of finance. And I think the finances are showing that it’s working, so they’re going to respond." 

(via Entertainment Weekly


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