Michaela Coel knows how important it is to have queer representation on-screen.
In an Oct. 6 interview with Vogue, Coel talked about her character Aneka, a captain and combat instructor in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” and revealed she decided to play the fearless warrior after learning her character was queer.
“That sold me on the role, the fact that my character’s queer,” Coel said. “I thought: I like that, I want to show that to Ghana.”
Being Ghanaian herself, it’s important to Coel that she helps other Ghanaians see queer representation in the film.
Currently in Ghana, a person could face up to a three-year sentence for same-sex conduct in the West African country. Also, a new bill is being proposed that would make identifying as gay a second-degree felony.
“People say, ‘Oh, it’s fine, it’s just politics,’” Coel said of the matter. “But I don’t think it is just politics when it affects how people get to live their daily lives.
“That’s why it felt important for me to step in and do that role because I know just by my being Ghanaian, Ghanaians will come.”
In the interview, Coel also talked about Chadwick Boseman’s death. The late actor, who played T’Challa in “Black Panther,” died from colon cancer at age 43 in August 2020.
When filming for “Wakanda Forever” began last year, Coel recalled that the entire cast was “processing grief” from Boseman’s death.
“There was a sense that we have to bring this baby home in the name of Chadwick,” Coel recalled. “I thought to myself, I’m rolling up my sleeves and I’m getting in. I don’t need to be front and center, I’m here to support.”
Coel credited the original “Black Panther” for representing Africa in such a major way that the sequel gets to carry on.
“I think for a lot of people it was the first time we’d seen some sort of representation on a very mainstream platform about the magic of Africa, the magic of the people, our ancestors,” she said of the 2018 film. “Coming here, you do feel something magical.”