Wakanda was powered by a mystery metal, vibranium, and had evaded the historical traumas endured by much of the rest of Africa, freeing it from the ravages of colonialism and postcolonialism. The phrase “Wakanda forever” became a hashtag and rallying cry.
The statement on Mr. Boseman’s Instagram account said it was “the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in ‘Black Panther.’”
Brian Helgeland, the writer and director of “42,” which gave Mr. Boseman his breakout role, said that Mr. Boseman reminded him of sturdy, self-assured icons of 1970s virility, like Gene Hackman and Clint Eastwood.
“It’s the way he carries himself, his stillness — you just have that feeling that you’re around a strong person,” Mr. Helgeland said. “There’s a scene in the movie where Robinson’s teammate, Pee Wee Reese, puts his arm around him as a kind of show of solidarity. But Chad flips it on its head. He plays it like, ‘I’m doing fine, I’m tough as nails, but go ahead and put your arm around me if it makes you feel better.’ I think that’s who Chad is as a person.”
Mr. Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, S.C., the youngest of three boys. His mother, Carolyn, was a nurse and his father, Leroy, worked for an agricultural conglomerate and had a side business as an upholsterer.
“I saw him work a lot of third shifts, a lot of night shifts,” Mr. Boseman told The New York Times last year. “Whenever I work a particularly hard week, I think of him.”
His closest role models were his two brothers: Derrick, the eldest, a preacher in Tennessee; and Kevin, a dancer who has performed with the Martha Graham and Alvin Ailey troupes and toured with the stage adaptation of “The Lion King.”
In high school, Mr. Boseman was a serious basketball player but turned to storytelling after a friend and teammate was shot and killed. Mr. Boseman processed his emotions by writing what he eventually realized was a play. When it was time to consider colleges, he chose an arts program at Howard University, with a dream of becoming a director.
At Howard, he took an acting class with the Tony Award-winning actress and director Phylicia Rashad, who helped him get into an elite theater program at the University of Oxford, an adventure he later learned had been financed by a friend of hers: Denzel Washington.
To earn money, Mr. Boseman taught acting to students at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.
After college, he moved to the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he spent his days in coffee shops — playing chess and writing plays to direct, some of which were influenced by hip-hop and pan-African theology.
He landed one-off television roles in “Law & Order,” “CSI: NY” and “Cold Case,” and eventually booked a recurring role in the 2007-9 ABC Family series “Lincoln Heights.”
This content was originally published here.