Black history is something we continue to learn about all the time. Despite those people who attempt to prevent us from learning more about it, there are people out there who are working their hardest to make sure those untold stories are shared with the world. That’s what Maria Bello, Gina Prince-Bythewood, and Viola Davis are doing with The Woman King.
As a person of color, I am always searching for more stories about black people and their part in history. Our stories are often glossed over or not even told at all. With people working overtime to prevent the teaching of critical race theory AKA history, it could become harder to learn more. Our stories deserve and need to be told.
I personally was not even familiar with the story of The Woman King until Viola Davis. Back in October 2020, I just happened to come across a photo of her looking super fit with the caption “#WomanKing here I come!!!.” When I found out that this was a story that involved female African warriors I was immediately intrigued and started following all that I could to keep up with the news. If you’re like me and not familiar with this story, allow me to fill you in.
The Woman King “tells the true story of the Agojie (also known as Amazons), a real-life army of women warriors who defended the powerful West African kingdom of Dahomey in present-day Benin during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries.” Viola Davis stars as General Nanisca who leads the female warriors. John Boyega stars as King Ghezo.
The last time we had a film that represented black people especially black women as warriors was Black Panther with the Dora Milaje. If you were a fan of them like we were, The Woman King should be right up your alley.
Check out the official trailer for The Woman King below.
Okay, how badass does this movie look? The cast is incredible, and the fight scenes look like they are going to be intense. We’re also super curious to know if Hero Fiennes Tiffin’s character is a bad guy. It sorta feels that way based on the fact that the voiceover right before we see him is “An evil is coming that threatens our kingdom.” Guess we’ll have to wait and see.
What’s so awesome about The Woman King is it’s all women kicking ass and fighting for what they believe in. One of the things that we are really excited about is that Gina Prince-Bythewood is the director. You know that woman has done some amazing films, from Love and Basketball to The Old Guard to name a few. If you saw The Old Guard, you know how great it was. It was action-packed and had a really good storyline. We know she’s going to absolutely kill it with The Woman King.
We really could not think of a more dynamic duo to even bring this story to life than Bythewood and Davis. The story means a great deal to both of them, and we know that they will do it justice. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Davis and Bythewood actually spoke about a book that tells the story of the Agojie. From what they said it wasn’t done in a respectful manner.
Davis had this to say: “There is one book, The Amazons of the Black Sparta—written by a white man. I had to cross out a lot of it because it was full of editorial comments like, “They looked like beasts. They were ugly. They were mannish.” You had to sift through all of that.” That’s the kind of thing that bothers me about black history told from the white gaze. They always use the roughest terms to reference black people and let’s be real, it’s always the harshest when speaking of dark-skinned black people especially women.
Bythewood is showcasing the beauty of these women. We rarely see dark-skinned black women onscreen, and I am so glad that she remained true to this story with the representation. With the help of her production designer Akin McKenzie, Bythewood made sure when researching for this project, they removed anything that came from the viewpoint of the colonizer.
Knowing all of this about The Woman King has us ready for it to be September already. We cannot wait to watch this film and we know it’s going to be one that sparks many conversations, and we hope people learn something from it.
In addition to Viola Davis, John Boyega, and Hero Fiennes Tiffin, The Woman King also stars Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, Jordan Bolger, Thuso Mbedu, Jayme Lawson, Adrienne Warren, Thando Dlomo, and Shaina West.