Before There Was Wakanda: Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o Will Take Us Back in Time With The Woman King

Viola Davis; Lupita Nyong’o
Viola Davis; Lupita Nyong’o
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images), John Phillips (Getty Images)

We know, we know: You’re exhausted by the seemingly never-ending references to Black Panther and the Dora Milaje and black excellence and ... this is your cue to exit stage left. You know, to someplace that’s not The Root.


For the rest of you, we heard some Women’s History Month news Thursday night that has us hyped: Word on the street is that TriStar Entertainment just acquired the rights to The Woman King, an original screenplay inspired by true events in the African kingdom of Dahomey (now Benin). What made this ancient empire so special? It was famously guarded by female warriors—you know, like the fictional Dora Milaje in Black Panther. (Oops! We did it again.)

But if that’s not intriguing enough, get this: The upcoming film will star Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o as mother and daughter. (We’ll pause while you collect yourselves.) As reported by Shadow and Act:

The film is inspired by true events in the Kingdom of Dahomey, a powerful state in [the] 18th century. It will tell the story of Nanisca (Davis), general of the all-female military unit known as the Amazons, and her daughter Nawi (Nyong’o), who together fought the French and neighboring tribes who violated their honor, enslaved their people, and threatened to destroy everything they’ve lived for.

Umm ... am I the only one who wants to see this, like, tomorrow?

But wait, there’s more: While the story originated from actress Maria Bello and producer Cathy Schulman’s Welle Entertainment, the film will be produced by Juvee Productions, helmed by Davis and her husband, Julian Tennon, who stated:

The Woman King has the potential to be a game changer for women of color everywhere. Viola and our team at JuVee are beyond excited to partner with Sony/TriStar to bring these fierce women to the big screen.


And while this sounds like a story that deserves to be told regardless of the black-ass blockbuster currently dominating the box office, the impact of Marvel’s latest success isn’t lost on Schulman, who issued this statement:

Black Panther just showed us how the power of imagination and lore could reveal a world without gender and racial stereotypes. The Woman King will tell one of history’s greatest forgotten stories from the real world in which we live, where an army of African warrior women staved off slavery, colonialism and intertribal warfare to unify a nation.


Yeah ... that sounds like something we need to see.

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?


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