Angela Bassett Made Marvel history Tuesday morning as the first star (and woman of color) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to receive an Academy Award nomination for a picture book adaptation. She’s been nominated before — she was nominated for lead actress nearly three decades ago in Tina Turner’s biopic “What’s Love Got to Do With It” — but said she was humbled and grateful to be recognized for her supporting role in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. “
“I’m really excited about it because I know it’s been 30 years,” Bassett said. “So it’s not easy to come by only landing in those coveted five places.”
Throughout the season, Bassett has been recognized for her work in the movie: She picked up a Golden Globe Award and a Critics’ Choice Award for Supporting Actress earlier this month and is on her way to receiving an award. NAACP Image Awarda Screen Actors Guild Award and a BAFTA award.
As Queen Ramonda, who becomes the sovereign ruler of the Kingdom of Wakanda upon the death of her son, King T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), she’s tasked with protecting the Afrofuturist nation from external threats posed by neighboring countries and nations. The Talokan Underwater NationLed by the demigod Namor (Tenoch Huerta Mejía).
Although the comic book adaptation didn’t receive a Best Picture nomination like 2018’s Black Panther movie, it did receive nods in the categories for costume design, makeup, hairstyling, original songs, and visual effects.
In a video interview from her home in Los Angeles, Bassett discussed mourning the death of Chadwick Boseman, the passing of her character and the joy she felt over her second Oscar nomination. These are edited excerpts from that conversation.
Where were you when you heard about the nominations?
You knew Super Tuesday was on its way. So I set my alarm for 5:25 am, I think I went down around 11 pm and woke up at 3:45 pm on my own, and I tried, tried to go back to sleep and couldn’t. The tap turned to adrenaline and got me overwhelmed.
They say when you can’t sleep, get out of bed and walk around in the dark. And I said, “But what time is it?” And look at the clock. At 5:25 am [a few minutes before the nominations would be announced on the West Coast]. I was trying to turn on the TV, and just couldn’t figure it out. I thought I would miss her. I couldn’t figure out how to turn on my tv. But I finally did and when it started, it was like, “Oh, my God, class one!” I’m glad I showed up on time.
This movie has an undeniable feminine energy, from the moments when she refers to the nation of Wakanda with “she” pronouns to the introduction of female prodigy Riri Williams, played by Dominic Thorne. How does this film empower young black girls?
I’m so proud that the movie is focused and led by black women. This is not the first time for me, the same goes for “waiting to exhale” And It was the first time it had been driven by four black women. I suppose I’ve been in this situation before. So I’m comfortable with it, I’m happy with it and I hope black girls know, we win. We can win.
The film and its creative team lost Chadwick BosemanWakanda’s cancer leader in 2020. How did you deal with his death and translate your grief on screen? What would Chadwick think of the movie?
I approached that with a great deal of pride, love, and respect for who he was and who he is. This wasn’t the moment of the fall, but this was the use of all that love, all those feelings we had for him, all those memories we had of him, and putting it to work and making it, hopefully as special as he is. This is no less than what he would do and what he wanted for us.
Your character drowns during an attack led by Namor. What was it like filming that scene?
This scene, fortunately, the water was warm. The girls were there, Lupita [Nyong’o]Danny [Gurira]. You were ready for that day, of course, you knew it was coming. It wasn’t as sad as the day I thought it would be. Definitely.
As we look back on your acting career, how do you feel about this being your second nomination?
I’m thrilled about it, but there’s also a part of me that maintains that I have to keep my feet firmly planted on the ground, on firma’s ground, on the ground. It has been a journey of hard work and an amazing opportunity. Say yes to what excites you at work and in people, and it always will be.
These awards are a wonderful gift from your fellow community members, and that sure is the pinnacle of it, but I know I’m thankful that I still got to get up this morning, get in my car and drive myself to the set. At work with my colleagues today. So, I can’t sit in heaven all day.
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