From her hilarious sitcom Chewing Gum to covering more serious matters with her drama, I May Destroy You, Michaela Coel’s versatility is something to marvel at. With an already impressive career in entertainment, the talented Brit has another opportunity to be proud of, her role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. The Marvel film was the first time we saw Afrofuturism on screen in that way, and the highly-anticipated sequel is expected to be just as good. The BAFTA award winner dished on her new role in Vogue’s cover story.
Michaela plays Aneka, a queer combat instructor. “That sold me on the role, the fact that my character’s queer,” she said. “I thought: I like that, I want to show that to Ghana.” The writer and producer was born and raised in London, UK, but her family is from Ghana.
The actress shot her cover story in Accra, Ghana which showed her sporting fashionable looks while skating through the streets, striking poses in the middle of the city, and even sharing the spotlight with her father and grandmother.
Ghana, like many African countries, has anti-gay laws and so it was important for the actress to take on this role. “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,” she said. “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.”
While Michaela’s role is a combat instructor, she began taking up mixed martial arts in real life thanks to her co-star UFC fighter Kamaru Usman who has a cameo in the film. “I was going through a rough time, and Usman said, ‘You need to go fighting,’” she explained. “It’s like physical chess.”
As the first Black woman to win the Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Dramatic Special, acting in Black Panther is a full-circle moment. She auditioned for the first Black Panther while she was still a student and even attended the London premiere.
Now, she gets to be a part of the family and something bigger than herself. “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,” she said. “Coming here, you do feel something magical.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever premieres November 11.
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Featured image by Karwai Tang/WireImage