I remember sitting at my desk monitoring a data center filled with Mac Servers. I was distracted by the thought, the hope that I could possibly be on the set of Black Panther. The movie was in it’s final weeks of filming and here I was at my real job. The year prior I had spent close to nine months doing backgrounded / extra work on different movie and tv shows being filmed around the city. The film industry is so massive here in Atlanta and many people do gigs full time.
I’d been a Black Panther fan since I was a little kid and I needed to be on set. I’d given up doing the extra work to return to an office job and feared I may have closed a door to soon.
My day off fell on a Monday and to my surprise there was a rush call for extras for Black Panther that same day.
I knew it was for Black Panther because I was privy to the code word used: “Mother Land” and I looked for that in the header of the post that the casting company posted on social media.
I submitted my head shot, personal info and availability.
I was running errands when I saw the alert asking me to come in.
Black Fucking Panther. This was happening!
This multi-million dollar, all-star, all Black cast.
I went home in a hurry, showered and rushed to set.
I was fitted with some beautiful Wakandan garbs.
I saw hair and make up.
I was literally shaking and my breathe was taken away at the sheer number of beautiful melanin present.
The vibrant colors,
The high energy that everyone appeared to posses.
It was surreal.
I was in another world.
I was in Wakanda.
There was electricity in the air.
We all knew we were part of something special.
I can’t / won’t talk about the scene that I was in but I’ll share something that really moved me. One of the extras was a tall brother, maybe 6’4, 200lbs if I could guess.
He may not have eaten or have been well hydrated I’m not sure but he passed out during one of the scenes. The drums stopped and the cameras stopped as well. Before the medic could get to him, Chadwick Boseman, T’Challa himself came to the extras side, kneeling beside him and giving him something to drink.
Chadwick was so present with everyone.
Communing with all the extras and to my recollection he wasn’t even filming that day or in that particular scene.
He was just chilling on the side, observant.
After that particular scene was over I was ecstatic because I got to shake Chadwicks hand. He was warm. Very kind greeting different extras that came up to him.
When I think about my 11 and half hours on set that day, and the $120 bucks I made for literally playing dress up and living in the worlds most technologically advance city on earth, I’m not only excited, I’m reflective.
Reflective of just how much this movie is needed.
Needed because it is unapologetically black in a world that relentlessly insist that we apologize for being black.
Needed because of it’s depiction of black excellence, melanin esthetic and, black possibility.
Needed because the existence of this particular narrative pushes back against the very real narratives of systematic failings, historical injustice, and apathy around our deaths.
I think about the work of Aaron Maybin, who works within the Baltimore school system to teach young black kids self love, artistic and academic excellence.
Or Dr. Hadiyah Nicole Green and her game changing laser cancer treatment research.
Wakanda is real because that place of black pride and innovation is within all of us.
Who knows maybe one day regions of Africa will become a beacon for the rest of the world?
Black Excellence is happening everywhere all the time.
There is an excellence that has always existed in the human experience of navigating this world in melinated skin.
A resilience and a refulgence than dance in tandem.
I can’t wait to for this movie ya’ll.