‘The Woman King’ is out in theaters today and as you prepare to see it or process what you’ve just seen there will be all kinds of critics questioning the historical accuracy of the film and the likelihood of certain parts of the plot.
We’ve seen the film TWICE, and loved it — especially watching among an audience of our own community. One of our favorite things about The Woman King is that the film portrays women forging their own paths, regardless of the rules!
GlobalGrind Sr. Content Director Janeé Bolden chatted with ‘The Woman King’ actresses Viola Davis and Thuso Mbedu about playing women who are rule breakers. The pair also discussed their bond on and offscreen. Check out their interview here on Global Grind!
In the film, Viola Davis portrays General Nanisca who heads up the fearsome Agozie warriors who defend the Kingdom of Dahomey in West Africa. Nanisca meets with lots of resistance from a young recruit named Nawi (Thuso Mbedu), who can never seem to abide by her rules. By the end of the movie, Nanisca finds that she too must defy orders and do what she believes is best. Viola Davis spoke to her experiences with rulebreaking both on camera and off!
“I was always taught to follow the rules, as if somehow if I followed the rules, my life would be better. And I could forget even the past and I could survive and somehow live better,” Viola Davis told Global Grind. “It wasn’t until I got much older that I realized the wildness in women cannot be quantified. It was where we find ourselves. It’s taking the risks — stepping out there. It’s like someone says, the person who is always looking down at their feet being perfect isn’t living any better than the person who is just jumping out there and failing, running in the rain, and experiencing joy in life. I feel like Nanisca was only teaching what she was taught.”
Thuso Mbedu plays a spirited orphan named Nawi in “The Woman King.” Cast out of her adoptive family’s phone for her unwillingness to wed an abusive man, Nawi finds family with Nanisca’s Agozie warriors, but not without hitting some stumbling blocks along the way.
“When we say rebel there is a negative connotation to it, but Nawi’s independence and what she stands for is the reason she survives,” Thuso Mbedu told Global Grind. “At home, if she had stuck to the rules she would have been married to a man who beats her. Ultimately that’s why her father throws her away because no man will marry her and that’s what the rules dictate. When she goes to join them, she is coming with that sense of all she’s had up until now is herself. The system has never been on her side. So what does she need to do see her get to where she wants to be? Which ultimately is become Izogie or Nanisca. Then she finds herself in a situation where if she follows the rules she needs to slit her own throat and die, and that’s not an option for her. All of these things have their pros and cons because Izogie breaks the rule at some point and that outcome is not necessarily favorable.”
Thuso and Viola spoke to the bond the pair grew, both in the film and while training together for production.
“Initially, the way it was written, Nawi aspired to be Nanisca,” Thuso told Global Grind. “That was her driving force in everything. But when we got there and having conversations with Gina [Prince-Bythewood] the director, for me, it became Nawi aspires to be Nanisca, Nanisca rejects her and Nawi goes, ‘Okay, whatever.’ Then Nawi looks to Izogie. That is it’s own story there. With Nawi and Nanisca it’s constantly bumping heads, to the point Nanisca is even like, ‘You again?’ ”
‘Exactly,’ Viola Davis agrees.
“For us personally, we got to bond a lot during the physical training, stunts training, and that in itself formed its own relationship to the point where even on set we could play,” Thuso added. “We could take risks. I knew that whatever I would give that Viola would be there to support me.”
Bring your sons, bring your daughters, daughters friends, bring the whole village! ‘The Woman King’ is in theaters now!
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