Celebrity Then And Now
Publication: Albany Daily News. Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Celebrity Then And Now
Posted by Lexi Schwartz
Black Panther, 42, Get On Up
Currently Known For:
2000s - Present
November 29, 1976
Black Panther, 42, Get On Up
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“You have to cherish things in a different way when you know the clock is ticking, you are under pressure.” Chadwick Boseman is making waves in the entertainment industry after making a name for himself with stellar performances as Jackie Robinson in 42 (2013), James Brown in Get On Up (2014), and Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017). Most recently, he joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the superhero Black Panther in Captain America: Civil War (2016), Black Panther (2018), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019). With upcoming projects including Da 5 Bloods and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, let’s take a look at his career and his passion for bringing diversity to Hollywood!
1970s to Stardom
Hailing from the south, Chadwick Aaron Boseman was born on November 29, 1976, in South Carolina where his mother was a nurse and his father worked in a textile factory by day and as an upholsterer by night. “I was raised in a sort of village,” Boseman says of his childhood. “I have a huge family, and I think there is strength in that. It helped me to deal with some of the complications of living in the south because I always felt like I belonged, no matter what.”
Boseman’s interest in writing and performing blossomed at T.L. Hanna High School where he wrote his first play, Crossroads, as a junior. After graduating in 1995, he enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C. and earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing in 2000. With the help of one of his professors, he raised enough money to attend the Oxford Mid-Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy in London with a few of his classmates. This marked a turning point in his plans as the program introduced him to acting.
After completion of the program, he settled down in New York City where he graduated from the New York City Digital Film Academy. He worked as a drama teacher with the Schomburg Junior Scholar Program and made his television debut in an episode of Third Watch in 2003. Over the next few years, he made one-episode appearances in Law & Order (2004), CSI: NY (2006), ER (2008), and Cold Case (2008) before he moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting full time. Once in Hollywood, he landed a recurring role in Lincoln Heights (2008-2009) and made his film debut as Floyd Little in The Express: The Ernie Davis Story (2008).
By 2010, Boseman had another regular role as Sergeant McNair in Persons Unknown (2010). His luck continued to improve with appearances in The Glades (2010), Castle (2011), Fringe (2011), Detroit 1-8-7 (2011), and Justified (2011). Then, in 2013, he was close to giving up acting and pursuing directing full time when he took a leap of faith and auditioned to play baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson in 42 (2013). With 25 other actors in serious consideration for the role, Boseman didn’t think his chances were good and focused all his efforts on directing an Off-Broadway play in East Village. However, Boseman’s auditions made a lasting impression on director Brian Helgeland who gave him the role.
Boseman didn’t disappoint in 42 and went on to join Kevin Costner in Draft Day (2014). He proved his talents for playing historical figures when he was cast as James Brown in Get On Up (2014). Over the next few years, he worked on smaller projects and behind the scenes before returning to the silver screen as Thoth in Gods of Egypt. By then, rumors ran wild that Boseman had joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Black Panther. Those rumors proved true when Boseman made his debut and earned a Saturn Award nomination for his performance in Captain America: Civil War. Like most Marvel films, Captain America: Civil War was a massive success and skyrocketed Boseman to stardom.
Life with the Marvel Universe and Beyond
Following his success in Captain America: Civil War, Boseman starred in and executive produced Message from the King (2016). He co-produced and starred as Thurgood Marshall in the 2017 biopic Marshall before he wowed fans with his award-winning performance in Black Panther (2018). The film earned him two MTV Movie Awards for Best Actor and Best Hero as well as a People’s Choice Male Movie Star Award and a Screen Actor’s Guild Award. Even then, Boseman was surprised by his incredible success, which he attributed to his work in 42, Get on Up, and Marshall. “I don’t think I would’ve been ready for Black Panther had I not done those three roles,” he said.
Of course, playing Black Panther brought on a lot of pressure as Boseman soon found out. “Most of it you put on yourself. It’s not like it’s actually coming from outside,” he said. “I think we all placed that pressure on ourselves with this because we knew what the opportunity was. Everyone knew this was something that had not been done before. So, you have to get it right. It’s a big movie and a big investment has been placed in you. You want to accomplish something because it might not happen again if you don’t do it right. Everyone felt that…”
Boseman certainly delivered in Black Panther and reprised his role in Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019). However, he refuses to let the films define his career. “It’s fulfilling on a lot of levels. I’ve never experienced that before, but I try to remove myself from the impact of the movie because I have to get back to work,” he says. “I can’t rest on my laurels. At the same time, it’s a joy to see… just the effect the film has on different people from various walks of life, no matter what race, gender, or age. To be a part of something that has affected people in different countries, that is humbling and liberating.”
Over the last few years, the 43-year-old actor has proven he’s sticking around Hollywood with his recent and upcoming projects including 21 Bridges (2019), Da 5 Bloods (TBA), and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (TBA). Hoping his work signifies a shift in Hollywood to embrace more diversity, Boseman seems to be on the right track. “The projects that I end up doing, that I want to be involved with in any way, have always been projects that will be impactful, for the most part, to my people—to black people,” he says.