Chadwick Boseman has had the chance to play some pretty legendary figures in his acting career. He was Jackie Robinson in 42, James Brown in Get on Up, and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall. He will likely soon be best known, though, for playing T’Challa/Black Panther. His first turn as the superhero was in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War but he’ll reprise the role in the upcoming films Black Panther and Avengers: Infinity War.
Boseman is a perfect example of a particular kind of Hollywood problem. For black actors, there seem to be more opportunities in biopics than fictional stories starring black characters. As Bustle puts it, “Biopics can sometimes be helpful in showcasing issues Black people have faced historically, but that can’t be the only kind of Black stories we get.” Boseman told Entertainment Weekly that before taking on the role of Thurgood Marshall, he wasn’t interested in doing another biopic. “I was not looking to play a real person,” he said, “and especially not an important real person, a famous real person.” Though he was eventually convinced to take on the role, it’s hard to say if he would have been persuaded had there been another non-biopic opportunity knocking on his door.
The role of Black Panther was part of a five-picture deal with Marvel for Boseman. The character was the first black superhero in mainstream American comics, premiering in the 1960s. T’Challa is the king and protector of the fictional African nation Wakanda. In the upcoming Black Panther, Boseman has the lead role alongside a cast of stellar black actors, including Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Forest Whitaker, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, and others. Boseman has described the plot of the film as very politically relevant to things happening right now in America.
Chadwick Boseman was born in South Carolina and attended Howard University in Washington, DC. He continued honing his acting craft at the British American Drama Academy in Oxford. Boseman spent time as a drama instructor in the Schomburg Junior Scholars Program in Harlem before moving to LA to pursue an acting career. His career began as many do, with guest roles on shows like Law & Order, ER, and Justified. He got recurring roles on the shows Lincoln Heights and Persons Unknown. Boseman scored his first feature film in 2008 and his first starring role, in 42, came in 2013. In addition to acting, Boseman is an accomplished playwright and director.
Black Panther will hit theaters in February 2018.