Michaela Coel wanted to ‘put her feet in shoes of a queer character’ in Black Panther
Michaela Coel has explained why she wanted to take on the role of a queer character in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
The I Will Destroy You actress shared her motivations for portraying queer combat instructor Aneka in an interview with PA Media, saying that she hoped the role would have a positive impact in Ghana, where the LGBTQ+ community is still incredibly marginalised.
“For me, it was about why I took the role and what it meant to me to portray a queer character, being from Ghana, where there’s a lot of confusing LGBTQ+ laws going on,” she said.
“My focus on that element was very singular… It was about what I represent in Ghana and putting my feet in the shoes of a queer character.”
LGBTQ+ identifying individuals have little to no rights in the West African country. Homosexuality is currently illegal and the government does not recognise same-sex marriage.
Coel – who has previously expressed her love for the country where her parents were born – believes that portraying a queer Ghanaian character could change hearts and minds for the better.
“I have many friends there, and even just knowing it’s happening is a very exciting thing,” she added.
When asked about the situation for LGBTQ+ people in Ghana, Coel said that she believes that representation is an incredibly important part of acceptance.
“People say, ‘Oh, it’s fine, it’s just politics,'” she 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.”
Michaela Coel confirmed Aneka’s sexuality will play a part in the film
Marvel first confirmed that Coel would be playing Aneka in July after a reveal trailer for the Black Panther sequel dropped at San Diego Comic-Con.
It was known that Coel was involved in the project since 2021, but her character had been kept a secret.
In the comics, Aneka serves as the captain of the Dora Milaje – an all-female elite special forces unit – and has an on-and-off relationship with Ayo, played by Florence Kasumba in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The actress confirmed in October that the character’s sexuality would play a part in the upcoming film during an interview with Vogue.
“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.”
Additionally, she also expressed her love for Black Panther and how it celebrates African culture, saying that, for many, it’s “the first time we’d seen some sort of representation on a very mainstream platform.”
A second trailer showed off Coel’s stunning portrayal as Aneka in action during a goosebump-inducing two-minute showcase of the film ahead of its 11 November release date.
It also showed off the film’s antagonist Namor, the King of Atlantis, and his troops in a tense battle with Wakandan soldiers.
In an interview with Variety, Marvel executive vice president of film production Victoria Alonso promised more queer representation in the future.
“It takes time, we have so many stories that we can tell,” she said. We’re not changing anything. We’re just showing the world who these people are, who these characters are.”
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