Give the job to Queen Viola Davis and consider it done!
The Woman King, a film inspired by the historical events that occurred in the Kingdom of Dahomey, one of Africa’s most powerful nations in the 18th and 19th centuries, has released its first look photographs. Davis is playing the role of Nansica, the general of the all-female military unit. The Academy Award-winning actress looked powerful and brilliantly lit in the first glimpse she released on Instagram on February 1, 2022, holding a sword in her hand and dressed in her African warrior garb.
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The historical epic was first announced in 2018. “The Woman King tells the story of Nanisca (Davis), General of the all-female military unit known as the Amazons, and her daughter Nawi (Nyong’o), who together fought the French and neighboring tribes who violated their honor, enslaved their people, and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for,” read the press release. The movie is set to release in theaters this fall.
“The Woman King is the powerful true story of an extraordinary mother-daughter relationship,” said Hannah Minghella, President of TriStar Pictures in the official press release. “And there’s no-one more extraordinary than Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o to bring them to life,” she added.
Meanwhile, Cathy Schulman, the president of Women in Film, compared the project to the movie Black Panther.
“Black Panther just showed us how the power of imagination and lore could reveal a world without gender and racial stereotypes. The Woman King will tell one of history’s greatest forgotten stories from the real world in which we live, where an army of African warrior women staved off slavery, colonialism and inter-tribal warfare to unify a nation.”
The rights to The Woman King have been bought by TriStar Pictures from Welle Entertainment, Juvee Productions, and Jack Blue Productions.
The final version of the script was co-written by Prince-Bythewood and Dana Stevens, who also authored the original. Welle Entertainment’s Schulman, Davis and Julius Tennon of JuVee Productions, and Maria Bello of Jack Blue Productions are producing the film.
The Woman King also stars Lashana Lynch, John Boyega, Adrienne Warren, Sheila Atim, Jayme Lawson, and Hero Fiennes-Tiffin.
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Viola Davis is the most nominated black actress in the history of the Academy Awards, with four acting nominations, and she is just one of the two black women to ever win an Oscar and then return for another nomination (Octavia Spencer for The Help). But as she says, this is not a record for celebration. In her opinion, it is hardly a cause for celebration. “The only reason I’m breaking records is that no one has been recognized,” she says. “That ‘honor’ is a sort of limited honor. The problem is with the moviemaking business itself, not the awards. You cannot nominate anyone for awards if there are no films being made, “she said in Variety’s Award Circuit Podcast.
Movies like The Woman King, with their stellar casts, may help bring the buried black past to the fore, and we may see more brilliance like Davis in the near future.