Michaela Coel says she joined Black Panther to tell LGBTQ+ story: ‘My character is queer’

Michaela Coel smiling on a red carpet, and in the Black Panther trailer in full warrior armour

Michaela Coel has confirmed her Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is queer, and that the chance to tell an LGBTQ+ story is why she joined the Marvel film.

News Coel would be joining the Black Panther sequel broke in July 2021, and a year later Marvel confirmed she would be playing Aneka, a combat instructor in the Dora Milaje – an all-female warrior group.

In the comics Aneka is queer and has an enemies to lovers romance with fellow warrior Ayo (Florence Kasumba in the films) which stirs things up among the ranks.
Now, Coel has confirmed Aneka’s sexuality will be part of the film.

“That sold me on the role, the fact that my character’s queer,” she told Vogue. “I thought: I like that, I want to show that to Ghana.”
Michaela Coel, who is British-Ghanaian, eflected on the situation for the LGBTQ+ community in Ghana right now, with a bill currently going through parliament which could make being gay or even supporting the community punishable by up to five years in prison.

It’s drawn condemnation across the world and from Ghana’s Anglican Bishops, who have spoken out against the bill as being “too severe”.

Michaela Coel. (Getty)

Michaela Coel. (Getty)

“People say, ‘Oh, it’s fine, it’s just politics’,” the 35-year-old actor said. “But I don’t think it is just politics when it affects how people get to live their daily lives.

“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.”

More generally, Coel has also fallen in love with the way Black Panther celebrates Africa and African culture. 

“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 explained, “Coming here, you do feel something magical.”

We caught our first glimpses of Coel as Aneka in the new Black Panther: Wakanda Forever trailer, where we see her leading her fellow warriors into battle. 
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be released in cinemas on 11 November, 2022.