Tue | Sep 22, 2020

Wayne Campbell | Chadwick Boseman – actor and role model

Published:Thursday | September 10, 2020 | 12:05 AM
Wayne Campbell
Wayne Campbell
Chadwick Boseman in a scene from ‘Black Panther’.
Chadwick Boseman in a scene from ‘Black Panther’.
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“You have to cherish things in a different way when you know the clock is ticking, you are under pressure.” – Chadwick Boseman

With the death of Chadwick Boseman, the world and specifically the entertainment industry has lost one of its brightest stars. Often compared to the legendary Denzel Washington, Boseman was a talented actor. He played numerous iconic roles, both on television and in movies. A few of those outstanding roles are Jackie Robinson in the movie 42 and Thurgood Marshall. Jackie Robinson was the first African American to play in Major League Baseball while Thurgood was a lawyer and civil rights activist who served as the first African-American justice in the US Supreme Court.

Many of us were captivated with his electric acting skills, as well as the passion he brought to the roles he took on. Boseman not only entertained us with his amazing and exemplary skills, but he also schooled us in African-American history. To have seen him in his many celebrated roles was a treat, the legacy of which will live on for years to come. Boseman was a once-in-a-lifetime talent; a gem of exquisite taste.

The tribute from his family highlighted his impeccable work ethics which is worthy of being emulated. In spite of his numerous surgeries and chemotherapy, he never shirked his responsibility as an actor. Boseman was believable in his many acting roles; he was at his brilliant best in the movie 21 Bridges. The tributes which have poured in after his passing is proof of the impact his brief life has on not only on the entertainment industry, but the international community at large.

Chadwick Aaron Boseman was born in 1976 in South Carolina. He attended Howard University in Washington, DC, graduating with a bachelor of fine arts in directing. He then attended the British American Drama Academy in Oxford, England. The much-beloved Denzel Washington assisted in paying for Boseman to study acting in England as part of the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford programme, held at Balliol College at Oxford University. He starred in a number of television roles and films; however, it was not until his role in Black Panther that Boseman became a household name. His role as T’Challa, king of the African country of #Wakanda, made him one of Hollywood’s leading men.

OFFERING HOPE TO BLACKS

His role in Black Panther was more than just acting. Boseman was able to offer hope to millions of black boys and girls regarding seeing someone of their skin colour as a superhero. He inspired an entire generation of people of colour by projecting strong images and characters on the silver screen and on television. He rose to fame at the right time when there was a void in leading black men in Hollywood. Chadwick was able to reignite an awareness of black consciousness and identity. He was fortunate to have played some good characters, black and strong during his relatively short life. This educated and brilliant African-American actor also directed as well; the short film Blood Over a Broken Pawn readily comes to mind. His television roles include crime dramas such as Third Watch and CSI: NY. He also appeared in the soap opera, All My Children. Boseman also appeared in roles in Lincoln Heights, The Glades and ER.

The blockbuster movie Black Panther won three Oscars Awards. Black Panther won for best original music score, best costume design and best production design. Do you recall the outstanding costumes from the Black Panther movie? No other movie could have competed with the brilliantly artistic designed costumes of the cast of Black Panther. Black Panther movie brought to the cinemas loyal moviegoers as well as seasonal moviegoers. The Black Panther movie was indeed rare. Such was the power of the movie that is transcended barriers to our humanity such as race, gender, sexual orientation and class. We saw a futuristic glimpse of a prosperous black continent.

CHAMPION CHILDREN

Boseman used his fame and fortune to advocate on issues of importance to him. He was a champion for black consciousnesses and identity. He gave of his time to causes surrounding children. St Jude Children’s Research Hospital was one of the institutions he visited even while fighting Stage IV colon cancer. Michelle Obama in her tribute to Boseman on Twitter said, “ Only Chadwick could embody Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and T’Challa. He, too, knew what it meant to persevere. To summon real strength. And he belongs right there with them as a hero, for black kids and for all our kids. There’s no better gift to give our world”.

Boseman a true fighter, a hero to many, a superhero to many boys. He was viewed by many black boys as a role model, and rightly so. He was charismatic and seemingly was not caught up in the demons which often bedevil Hollywood. In a tweet, vice-presidential candidate Kamala Harris, who also attended Howard University, recalled Boseman as brilliant, kind, learned and humble. President Obama tweeted on August 29, a day after Boseman ’s death, “You could tell right away that he was blessed. To be young, gifted, and black; to use that power to give them heroes to look up to; to do it all while in pain – what a use of his years.” Boseman’s death from cancer at age 43 has fuelled a sense of awareness and responsibility among black men who are at an increased risk for developing colon cancer. In a Washington Post article of September 3 it was stated that black people are at a disproportionately high risk for colon cancer diagnoses, according to the American Cancer Society, and the mortality rate has increased in recent years, particularly among black men. His death at 43 has left a void in the black community and Hollywood in general. Black Hollywood has very few men who can command the respect and authority that Boseman could. The outpouring of grief from scores of people both in the entertainment industry, politics and well-wishers in the moments and days following Boseman ’s death clearly underscores how well respected and loved he was. You represented well, Chadwick. You will be sadly missed. A’luta Continua! #ChadwickBoseman #Wakanda

Wayne Campbell is an educator and social commentator with an interest in development policies as they affect culture and/or gender issues. Email waykam@yahoo.com; IG: @WayneCamo