Sope Aluko, a Christian actress born in Nigeria who holds U.S. and British citizenship, said that the set of “Black Panther” (2018) felt “almost like church.”
“During breaks we shared our testimony of how we got to where [we] did and most of the people were testifying to God’s miracles, it was almost like church,” Aluko told Okay Africa’s Ezinne Mgbeahuruike.
Mgbeahuruike had asked her, “How was it working alongside such heavy hitters like Lupita Nyong’o, Michael B. Jordan, and Forest Whitaker?” The actress responded that the “Black Panther” set “felt very familiar and like home.”
“We had early call times but I didn’t even feel the long set hours because it was such a good time. I didn’t feel like I was amongst stars, everyone was so down to earth and normal,” Aluko explained. Then came the “church” comment.
It may be encouraging for Christians — often afraid of the secular values of Hollywood — to hear that God’s miracles were discussed on the set of a major motion picture set to release this year. But the context of Aluko’s remarks should be even more encouraging.
Aluko suggested that discussing God’s miracles in a way that felt “almost like church” was “down to earth and normal.” She thought of it as “such a good time,” and “very familiar and like home.”
Christians make up 40 percent of Nigeria’s 186 million people, so this actress’s faith should not be surprising. The positive reception of that faith in Hollywood — and the fact that other stars were witnessing about God as well — would strike many Christians as a welcome surprise.
Aluko also told Okay Africa that “things have shifted for the better” for Nigerian actresses in Hollywood. “For quite some time, for an African actor, it was difficult. It seems as though the stories were not being told in a way that it should be. Hollywood had the version of Africa they wanted to present and package to the world and it looks like they’ve since changed then.”
“Directors are now more open to casting real Africans with real accents from different parts of the continent, so that’s very reassuring,” the actress explained. “Notable names like Yvonne Orji, Lupita Nyong’o and David Oyewole have made it easier for those coming behind to break in. It’s cool to be Nigerian these days so it’s a great time for actors in Hollywood because it feels like it’s all finally happening.”
“Black Panther” is a strong step for the diversity of Hollywood, and it seems quite promising from the trailers. While Hollywood has often made such films into a political statement, two factors suggest reason for hope that this Marvel movie will go beyond politics.
First, “Wonder Woman” (2017) proved such a success partially because it did not present a political message. Second, Marvel has presented political messages, but only the perennial kind, such as, “In a world of superheroes, should they submit to the government?”
“Black Panther” will likely focus on broad themes of loyalty, power, and heroism. It is encouraging to see a movie with all these black actors and actresses, and it is even more encouraging to hear that these Hollywood celebrities discuss the miracles of God on set. Would that every actor described Hollywood as “very familiar,” “like home,” “down to earth,” and “almost like church.”
Watch the trailer below: