The Harder They Fall has been the talk of social media since it premiered on Netflix last week. The film is a first of its kind. A western with a star-studded, all-Black cast that includes Idris Elba, Regina King, and LaKeith Stanfield, but what makes the story even more interesting is that the characters are all based on real people. While the real people have never met in real life, the actors in the film do and they come together to tell an explosive, yet touching fictional story.
While white men have historically been at the forefront of Western movies, The Harder They Fall puts an end to that by not only having an all-Black cast but also having strong Black female characters.
Regina King's character, "Treacherous Trudy," is just as powerful and respected as Idris Elba's character, who she plays alongside throughout the film. Zazie Beetz's character "Stagecoach Mary" plays alongside Jonathan Majors' character but proves herself to be more than just his love interest.
Lastly, we have "Cuffe," played by Danielle Deadwyler, who defies what a stereotypical woman is supposed to be. The film's director Jeymes Samuel spoke with Essenceon the importance of having fearless female characters in the film.
"Just because the story takes place in the 1800s shouldn't give you license to make women subservient," he said. "When Nat Love says to Trudy Smith, 'Where's your boss? She goes, 'Boss?' When Nat Love says to Stagecoach Mary, 'What in my character makes you think I'd allow that?' She goes, 'I wasn't asking for your permission.' Ain't no subservience in this movie. We're kings and queens on horseback."
And why would the women be subservient when they were real-life badasses?
History.com says that Mary Fields aka Stagecoach Mary was the first Black woman to work as a mail carrier and she was known to sport two guns to fight off thieves. Because of her height and tough demeanor, she was feared by many, but also loved and respected.
At 17-years-old, Cathay "Cuffe" Williams became the first documented woman to serve in the United States Army, although she enlisted as a man. When she was found out, she was discharged and later joined the Buffalo Soldiers.
Cathay Williams, aka "Cuffe" was the first-ever Black woman to serve in the US Army. She enlisted as a man in 1866 under the name "William Cathay" when she was just 17.— McKenzie Jean-Philippe (@McKenzie_JP) November 6, 2021
Where is Cathay's biopic?!?! #TheHarderTheyFallpic.twitter.com/eJsxxIINfw
There is little known information about Gertrude "Treacherous Trudy" Smith, but according to Jeymes, she was a pickpocketer and well-traveled, which explains the character's accent. She also used to run with a woman named Dolly Mickey. It's also reported that the story her character in the film shared about her sister happened in real life.
So, there you have it. These ladies were not only badasses, but they were free Black women who made history. Even in the 1800s, they didn't let being Black or being a woman stop them from living life on their own terms.
Now, that's powerful!
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