In Memoriam

Remembering Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman will definitely be known forever as a true talent gone before his time. The much-beloved performer whose career took off in the 2010s making him one of the decades biggest rising stars passed away to the shock of many on August 28, 2020 at the age of 43 after a very private but brave battle with colon cancer that plagued him for four years. Personally, for me a loss in the world of Hollywood hasn’t affected me this heavily since Robin Williams passed away. Boseman was an amazing talent who quickly became a personal favorite of mine for his abilities to lose himself in a role and capture the personalities of his subjects, including several of the most iconic African American figures in history in several of biographical pictures during his career.

(Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Boseman was born in Anderson, South Carolina in 1976 and found a passion for drama in high school when he wrote his first play. He went on to graduate from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing where he met his mentor Phylicia Rashad who, with the help of famed actor Denzel Washington, raised funds for Boseman and his classmates to attend the British American Drama Academy in London. Originally intending to write and direct, Boseman first learned the intricacies of acting to be able to relate to his performers and even graduated from the Digital Film Academy in New York City with intents of being behind the camera. While living in Brooklyn, New York Boseman made his acting debut on the small screen in shows like “All My Children” and “Third Watch” in 2003 as well as “Law & Order” and “CSI: NY” before moving to Los Angeles in 2008 to pursue his career further.

(Courtesy of Fast Philly Sports)

That same year Boseman made his big screen debut in “The Express: The Ernie David Story”. It would be his only big screen appearance before the 2010s but Boseman continued to appear on television including a recurring role on “Lincoln Heights” and appearances in “ER”, “Cold Case”, and “Lie to Me”. It would be a few years before Boseman burst onto the scene in his breakthrough performance as the legendary Jackie Robinson in the biopic “42”. The role would earn him critical acclaim and put his name on the map instantly making him a rising star in the industry for his bravery in his audition and his sincerity on the screen. Biopics would become something of a niche for Boseman as his career would see him portray James Brown in the 2014 film “Get on Up” and later Thurgood Marshall in 2017’s “Marshall”. He also starred in “The Kill Hole” released only weeks before “42”, “Gods of Egypt” in 2016 and the Netflix film “Message from the King” in 2016.

(Courtesy of Disney)

Also, in 2016 Boseman would debut possibly his most iconic role as T’Challa the Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The Black Panther was only the third African American hero in the MCU (after War Machine and Falcon) and was slated to be the first in the series with his own movie. The character would join the MCU in “Captain America: Civil War” becoming an instant fan favorite. T’Challa took center stage in 2018 with his own movie “Black Panther” which became a sensation earning $1.3 billion at the box office second only to “Avengers: Infinity War” that year which also featured the character in a major supporting role. The role would bring Boseman his only industry awards earning two MTV Movie & TV Awards, a Screen Actors Guild Award and an NAACP Image Award for his performance or as a member of the cast in the standalone movie. Boseman returned as Black Panther in 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame” which became the highest grossing film of all time. He appeared in 2019’s “21 Bridges” and Boseman’s final film performance prior to his death was just this year in 2020’s “Da 5 Bloods” directed by Spike Lee. He will appear on the big screen one final time in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” which is currently in post-production.

(Courtesy of Newsweek: Boseman and his wife Taylor Simone Ledward)

Boseman kept his personal life pretty private as his battle with cancer since 2016 was largely a shock to his fans when the news got out. However what we do know is Boseman was an openly devout and Baptized Christian who even stated he prayed to get the role of the Black Panther. His relationship with eventual wife Taylor Simone Ledward was public knowledge since 2015 although their wedding in 2019 was held in private. Boseman also became one of the most notable black figures in Hollywood right from the start of his career where he lost his recurring role on “All My Children” to his eventualy “Black Panther” co-star Michael B. Jordan after he voiced concerns about racial stereotypes in the show’s writing. His role a the Black Panther also quickly made him an icon of African American cinema with Boseman often performing the Wakanda salute for fans during appearances. Boseman never spoke publicly about his cancer diagnosis and pushed through several productions while undergoing chemotherapy before his illness progressed to stage IV prior to 2020. Fans had speculated a possible health issue after a photo of Boseman surfaced showing significant weight loss, but many assumed it was due to preparation for a role.

(Courtesy of The Atlantic)

Boseman’s death shocked the world as his performances in numerous biopics and his contributions to the MCU made him a household name in only ten years. His death brought countless tributes from fellow actors, critics and especially fans while the final tweet to his Twitter account (posted by his family on August 29, 2020) became the social media sites most-liked tweet ever with over 7.7 million likes in 24 hours. His death was also, coincidentally, on Jackie Robinson day which celebrates the first African American superstar in Major League Baseball who Boseman portrayed in “42”. Boseman’s passing was a heartbreaking revelation for me personally how fragile life can be and his bravery in pushing through his illness and keeping it quite so to respect his family’s privacy and not let it overshadow his artistry is beyond commendable. He proved without a shadow of a doubt that he didn’t just play a hero on the big screen, he lived it in his life as well. Like the hero he portrayed he faced his adversity with honor and courage right to the end. Needless to say, the world lost a true talent, a great spirit, and a wonderful man. Wakanda Forever!!!

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