Michaela Coel is headed to Wakanda. The TV auteur is joining the cast of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, the sequel to the 2018 superhero smash hit. Variety reports that Coel, who most recently wrote, directed, produced and starred in the brilliant HBO series I May Destroy You, has joined the film’s production at Atlanta’s Pinewood Studios; production on the superhero sequel originally began in June.
Details about the British-Ghanian multihyphenate’s character are, naturally, still top secret, with Marvel Studios declining to comment on the casting. Details about the sequel in general have been hush-hush, as writer-director Ryan Coogler has had to figure out a way forward for the film after the 2019 death of star Chadwick Boseman. The storyline has not yet been confirmed, nor has the roster of returning cast members, though it seems likely that core characters played by Lupita Nyong’o, Letitia Wright, Danai Gurira, and newly minted Oscar winner Daniel Kaluuya would all return.
Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige addressed the emotional return to production in a June interview with Variety. “It’s clearly very emotional without Chad,” he said. “But everyone is also very excited to bring the world of Wakanda back to the public and back to the fans. We’re going to do it in a way that would make Chad proud.”
In a recent interview with Jemele Hill, Coogler himself spoke candidly about how difficult it’s been to work on the sequel without Boseman. “This is one of the more profound things that I’ve gone through in my life, having to be a part of keeping this project going without this particular person who is like the glue who held it together.” He continued, adding that “this is without a question the hardest thing I’ve had to do in my professional life.”
Though it’s unclear which character she will be playing, Coel makes for an exciting addition to the cast. She’s in the midst of career boom, recently earning three Emmy nominations for I May Destroy You, including best writing, best directing, and best actress in a limited series. The series, originally released by the BBC in the UK, and in HBO in the U.S., is inspired by Coel’s own experience with sexual assault. She plays a character loosely based on herself, going on a journey of trying to unpack her trauma and find her assaulter. Previously, Coel wrote, produced and starred in the cheery comedy Chewing Gum, and spent the years in between racking up roles in shows like Black Earth Rising and films like the musical Been So Long and Star Wars: The Last Jedi.
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