Lupita Nyong’o paid tribute to her late Black Panther co-star Chadwick Boseman in a moving Instagram post on Tuesday, praising him for caring “deeply about humanity, about Black people,” and for instilling “pride by pushing through and working with such high purpose in the films he chose to commit to.”
Boseman died in August after a private four-year battle with colon cancer. He was a Hollywood chameleon, landing iconic roles like Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and, of course, Black Panther’s King T’Challa. Nyong’o, who played King T’Challa’s love interest Nakia in the groundbreaking superhero film, said Boseman’s power “lives on” and “will reverberate for generations to come.”
“I am aware that we are all mortal, but you come across some people in life that possess an immortal energy, that seem like they have existed before, that are exactly were they are supposed to always be – here! … that seem ageless… Chadwick was one of those people,” she wrote. “Chadwick was a man who made the most of his time, and somehow also managed to take his time. I didn’t know him for long, but he had a profound effect on me in the time that I did.”
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Nyong’o recalled being struck by Boseman’s “quiet, powerful presence” when they joined forces to film Black Panther. “He had no airs about him, but there was a higher frequency that he seemed to operate from,” she wrote. “You got the sense that he was fully present and also somehow fully aware of things in the distant future. As a result, I noticed that Chadwick never seemed rushed! He commanded his time with ease…and he put in the work with all of us.”
The actress also said Boseman showed up to rehearsals, training, and shoot days with “his game face on.”
“He was absorbent. Agile. He set the bar high by working with a generosity of spirit, creating an ego-free environment by sheer example, and he always had a warm gaze and warm strong embrace to share,” she wrote. “His large hands would descend on my shoulders and give them a squeeze that relieved me of the tensions I did not realize I was holding. Chadwick’s hands were strong enough to carry the weight of the film and free enough to clasp mine when I needed it.”
Nyong’o never heard him complain, despite battling cancer while filming. According to the actress, he did his “own stunts, drummed at his own parties, danced many a night away, mastered martial arts.”
Boseman was also, she says, a master wordsmith. “I think he understood the power of words and chose to manifest power through his word. He used his mouth to build, to edify, never to break,” she said. “And he used it to tell some regrettably lame dad jokes. He practiced not going against himself. He seemed to really love himself; he expressed who he really was, even when it meant he didn’t smile when you thought he should. He accepted himself. And perhaps that’s why he was capable of loving so many, so deeply.”
The late actor inspired Nyong’o to be a better person—”less petty, more purposeful,” she wrote, adding that “he was fueled by love, not fear. He moved quietly, deliberately, and without imposing himself or his ideals on others. And yet he also made damn sure that his life meant something. He cared so deeply about humanity, about Black people, about his people. He activated our pride by pushing through and working with such high purpose in the films he chose to commit to, Chadwick has made the infinite his home.”
Nyong’o concluded her post (in full, here, on her Instagram) with a promise not to “waste” any time.
“Chadwick’s death is something that I can neither take in nor take in my stride right now,” she said. “Perhaps with time… I”m going to take my time… and in his honor, I promise not to waste my time. I hope you will do the same.”
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