Chadwick Boseman
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Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman (28017825484) (cropped 2).jpg
Boseman in 2016
Born
Chadwick Aaron Boseman

(1976-11-29)November 29, 1976[a]
DiedAugust 28, 2020(2020-08-28) (aged 43)
Cause of deathColon cancer
EducationHoward University (BFA)
OccupationActor
Years active1994-2020[4]
Notable work
T'Challa / Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2016-2019)
Taylor Simone Ledward

Chadwick Aaron Boseman (November 29, 1976[a] – August 28, 2020)[5] was an American actor. After studying directing at Howard University, he landed his first major role as a series regular on Persons Unknown (2010). Boseman's breakthrough performance came as baseball player Jackie Robinson in the biographical film 42 (2013). He continued to portray historical figures, starring in Get on Up (2014) as singer James Brown and Marshall (2017) as Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall.

Boseman achieved international fame for playing superhero Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) from 2016 to 2019. He appeared in four MCU films, including an eponymous 2018 film that earned him an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. As the first black actor to headline an MCU film, Boseman was also named to the 2018 Time 100. In 2020, he starred in Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods. His final film, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, is scheduled to be released posthumously.[6]

In 2016, Boseman was diagnosed with colon cancer. Boseman kept his condition private, continuing to act while receiving treatment. He died in 2020 from complications related to the illness.

Early life

Chadwick Aaron Boseman[7][5] was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina,[8][9][10] the son of Carolyn[11] and Leroy Boseman, both African-American.[12] His mother was a nurse and his father worked at a textile factory, managing an upholstery business as well.[13] According to Boseman, DNA testing from 'African Ancestry' indicated that some of his ancestors were Krio people from Sierra Leone, Limba people from Sierra Leone and Yoruba people from Nigeria.[14]

Boseman graduated from T. L. Hanna High School in 1995 where he played on the basketball team.[15][16] In his junior year, he wrote his first play, Crossroads, and staged it at the school after a classmate was shot and killed.[13] Boseman attended college at Howard University in Washington, D.C., graduating in 2000 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing.[17] One of his teachers was Phylicia Rashad, who became a mentor.[13] She helped raise funds, notably from her friend and prominent actor Denzel Washington,[5] so that Boseman and some classmates could attend the Oxford Mid-Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy in England, to which they had been accepted.[13]

Boseman wanted to write and direct, and initially began studying acting to learn how to relate to actors.[18] After he returned to the U.S., he graduated from New York City's Digital Film Academy.[19][20]

He lived in Brooklyn at the start of his career.[13] Boseman worked as the drama instructor in the Schomburg Junior Scholars Program, housed at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York.[7] In 2008, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue his acting career.[21]

Career

Boseman acted on stage in multiple productions, winning an AUDELCO award in 2002, and he also directed and wrote plays.[22][23][24] Part of the Hip Hop theater movement, his play-writing included Rhyme Deferred (co-writer and performer), and Hieroglyphic Graffiti.[22][25][26] Boseman's script for Deep Azure was commissioned by the Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago, and was nominated for a 2006 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work.[27][22] He directed a number of theater productions, and directed, wrote, and produced the short film, Blood Over a Broken Pawn in 2007, which was honored at the 2008 Hollywood Black Film Festival.[22][28]

In 2003, Boseman was cast in his first television role, an episode of Third Watch.[29] That same year, Boseman portrayed Reggie Montgomery in the daytime soap opera All My Children,[30] but stated that he was fired after voicing concerns to producers about racist stereotypes in the script; the role was subsequently re-cast, with Boseman's future Black Panther co-star Michael B. Jordan assuming the role.[31] His early work included episodes of the series Law & Order, Cold Case, CSI: NY, and ER.[7] In 2008, he played a recurring role on the television series Lincoln Heights and appeared in his first feature film, The Express: The Ernie Davis Story, as running back Floyd Little.[32] He landed his first regular role in the 2010 television series Persons Unknown.[32]

Boseman's breakthrough role was in the 2013 film 42, in which he portrayed baseball pioneer and star Jackie Robinson.[32][33] He had been directing an off-Broadway play in East Village when he auditioned for the role,[34] and was considering giving up acting and pursuing directing full-time at the time.[35] About 25 other actors had been seriously considered for the role, but director Brian Helgeland liked Boseman's bravery and cast him after he had auditioned twice.[36][17] Robinson's widow, Rachel Robinson, commented that Boseman's performance was like seeing Jackie again.[25] The same year, Boseman also starred in the independent film The Kill Hole, which was released in theaters a few weeks before 42.[37]

Boseman at the Deauville Film Festival in 2014

As James Brown in 2014's Get on Up, Boseman did some singing and all of his own dancing.[38] He watched Brown's performances for weeks, and spoke with Mick Jagger before deciding to portray 'The Hardest Working Man in Show Business'. According to Irish Times film correspondent, Donald Clarke, "Get on Up tested every weapon in the actor's arsenal...The performance confirmed that, like a star from Hollywood's golden age, Chadwick Boseman could do it all and do it all with style."[39]

In 2014, Boseman also appeared opposite Kevin Costner in Draft Day, in which he played an NFL draft prospect.[40] In 2016, he starred as Thoth, a deity from Egyptian mythology, in Gods of Egypt.[41] Boseman was one of the few actors of color featured in the film, which had drawn criticism for depicting a predominantly white cast playing Egyptian characters. Agreeing with the criticism, Boseman said it motivated him to accept the role to ensure one of the film's Egyptian deity would be of African descent.[13]

In 2016, he began portraying the Marvel Comics character T'Challa / Black Panther, with Captain America: Civil War being his first film in a five-picture deal with Marvel.[42][43] He headlined Black Panther in 2018,[44] which focused on the character and his home country of Wakanda in Africa. The film opened to great anticipation, becoming one of the highest-grossing films of the year in the United States. The role earned Boseman a spot on the 2018 Time 100 as one of the world's most influentual people, with Sean Combs writing his entry.[45] He reprised the role in both Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which were released in 2018 and 2019, respectively. Both films were the highest grossing of the year they were released, with Endgame going on to become the highest-grossing film of all time.[46]

Boseman portrayed Thurgood Marshall in the biographical film Marshall in 2017. Set years before he became the first African American Supreme Court Justice, the movie focuses on one of Marshall's early cases. It was premiered at Howard University, which both Boseman and Marshall had attended.[47][48]

In 2019, he starred in 21 Bridges, an American action thriller film directed by Brian Kirk, as an NYPD detective who shuts down the eponymous 21 bridges of Manhattan to find two suspected cop killers. It was also announced that Boseman was cast in the Netflix war drama film Da 5 Bloods, directed by Spike Lee.[49] The film was released on June 12, 2020.[50] Lee, in choosing Boseman for the divine-like character of "Stormin" Norman, said, "This character is heroic; he's a superhero. Who do we cast? We cast Jackie Robinson, James Brown, Thurgood Marshall, and we cast T'Challa."[51]

Appraisal

According to film critic Owen Gleiberman in Variety, "Boseman was a virtuoso actor who had the rare ability to create a character from the outside in and the inside out [and he] knew how to fuse with a role, etching it in three dimensions [...] That's what made him an artist, and a movie star, too. Yet in Black Panther, he also became that rare thing, a culture hero".[52] Similarly, reviewer Richard Brody in The New Yorker finds the originality of Boseman's formidable acting technique in his ability to empathize with the interior lives of his characters and render them on screen as fully and completely belonging to the character.[53] He was uniquely able to capture and portray the dignity of his characters, according to The New York Times critic Wesley Morris.[54]The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw wrote of the actor's "beauty, his grace, his style, his presence [...] These made up Chadwick Boseman's persona [and he became] the lost prince of American cinema[,] glorious and inspirational".[55]

Personal life

Boseman began dating singer Taylor Simone Ledward in 2015.[56] The two reportedly got engaged by October 2019, and they later married in secret, as revealed by Boseman's family in a statement announcing his death.[57][56]

Boseman was raised a Christian and was baptized. He was part of a church choir and youth group and his former pastor said that he still kept his faith.[58] Boseman had stated that he prayed to be the Black Panther character before he was cast as the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[59]

Illness and death

Boseman was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016, which eventually progressed to stage IV before 2020.[5] He never spoke publicly about his cancer diagnosis, and according to The Hollywood Reporter, "[o]nly a handful of non-family members knew that Boseman was sick... with varying degrees of knowledge about the severity of [his] condition".[60] During treatment, involving multiple surgeries and chemotherapy, he continued to work and completed production for several films, including Marshall, Da 5 Bloods, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, and others. Boseman died at his home as a result of complications related to colon cancer on August 28, 2020, with his wife and family by his side.[61][62][63]

Boseman died without a will, and his estate will be governed by California law.[64]

Response

Many fellow actors and other celebrities paid tribute to Boseman via social media following the announcement of his death, including a number of his Marvel Cinematic Universe co-stars. Marvel Studios president and CCO Kevin Feige called Boseman's death "absolutely devastating", writing: "Each time he stepped on set, he radiated charisma and joy, and each time he appeared on screen, he created something truly indelible [...] Now he takes his place [as] an icon for the ages".[65][66] Co-stars from Boseman's other films also paid tribute to him.[67]

On August 29, 2020, the day after Boseman died, the tweet in which his family announced his death on his Twitter account became the most-liked tweet ever, with more than 6 million likes in under 24 hours,[68][69] and accumulating over 7 million by August 31, far displacing the previous record holder.[70] His death was compared to other unexpected deaths of young black celebrities in 2020, particularly Kobe Bryant and Naya Rivera.[71]

Boseman's alma mater, Howard University, tweeted in reaction to Boseman's death, "It is with profound sadness that we mourn the loss of alumnus Chadwick Boseman who passed away this evening. His incredible talent will forever be immortalized through his characters and through his own personal journey from student to superhero! Rest in Power!"[72]

Major League Baseball and the Los Angeles Dodgers, the franchise for which Robinson played when the team was at its former home of Brooklyn, New York, issued statements honoring Boseman, in light of his acclaimed portrayal of the player.[73][74] Several publications noted Boseman died on the observance of Jackie Robinson Day,[b] seven years after his having portrayed Robinson.[75][76] Prior to the fifth game between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA playoffs, Boseman was honored with a moment of silence, alongside Cliff Robinson and Lute Olson.[77] When Lewis Hamilton won the 2020 Belgian Grand Prix, he dedicated the win to Boseman.[78]

Tributes

Governor of South Carolina Henry McMaster ordered the Statehouse flags be lowered to half-staff on August 30, 2020, in honor of Boseman, who was born and raised in the state.[79] Also on August 30, ABC (which, like Marvel Entertainment, is owned by Disney) aired a commercial-free version of Black Panther, followed by a special about Boseman's life and work titled Chadwick Boseman -- A Tribute for a King.[80][81] The 2020 MTV Video Music Awards ceremony was also dedicated to Boseman.[82] On August 28, 2020, a Change.org petition was started, seeking to replace a Confederate monument in his hometown of Anderson with a statue of Boseman, which collected more than 50,000 signatures within less than a week, surpassing its original goal of 15,000 signatures.[83] On September 24, 2020, Disney unveiled a mural by artist Nikkolas Smith dedicated to Boseman at Downtown Disney in Anaheim, California.[84]

A public memorial service was held on September 4, 2020, in Anderson, South Carolina, where the speakers included Boseman's childhood pastor as well as Deanna Brown-Thomas, daughter of James Brown, whom Boseman portrayed in Get on Up.[85] The city announced plans for creation of a permanent art memorial.[86] Despite reports Boseman was buried at Welfare Baptist Church cemetery in nearby Belton, South Carolina,[87] the funeral home handling his services and the church pastor both denied this.[88] Marvel's official YouTube channel released a tribute for Chadwick Boseman with many actors like Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson and Chris Evans releasing their tribute.[89] The 2020 video game Marvel's Spider-Man: Miles Morales features an after-credits message dedicated in memory of Boseman and 42nd Street has been renamed to 'Boseman Way' in tribute.

Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2008 The Express: The Ernie Davis Story Floyd Little [90]
2012 The Kill Hole Lt. Samuel Drake [91]
2013 42 Jackie Robinson [90]
2014 Draft Day Vontae Mack [92]
2014 Get on Up James Brown [90]
2016 Gods of Egypt Thoth [93]
2016 Captain America: Civil War T'Challa / Black Panther [94]
2016 Message from the King Jacob King Also executive producer [95]
2017 Marshall Thurgood Marshall Also co-producer [96]
2018 Black Panther T'Challa / Black Panther [97]
2018 Avengers: Infinity War [98]
2019 Avengers: Endgame [99]
2019 21 Bridges Andre Davis Also producer [100]
2020 Da 5 Bloods Norman Earl "Stormin' Norm" Holloway [101]
2020 Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Levee Post-production; posthumous release [102]

Television

Year Title Role Notes Ref.
2003 All My Children Reggie Porter Recurring role [31]
2003 Third Watch David Wafer Episode: "In Lieu of Johnson" [103]
2004 Law & Order Foster Keyes Episode: "Can I Get a Witness?" [103]
2006 CSI: NY Rondo Episode: "Heroes" [104]
2008 ER Derek Taylor Episode: "Oh, Brother" [103]
2008 Cold Case Dexter Collins Episode: "Street Money" [103]
2008-2009 Lincoln Heights Nathaniel "Nate" Ray 9 episodes [105]
2009 Lie to Me Cabe McNeil Episode: "Truth or Consequences" [106]
2010 Persons Unknown Sergeant McNair Main role; 13 episodes [104]
2010 The Glades Michael Richmond Episode: "Honey" [107][108]
2011 Castle Chuck Russell Episode: "Poof, You're Dead" [104]
2011 Fringe Mark Little / Cameron James Episode: "Subject 9" [109]
2011 Detroit 1-8-7 Tommy Westin Episode: "Beaten/Cover Letter" [110]
2011 Justified Ralph Beeman Episode: "For Blood or Money" [104]
2018 Saturday Night Live Himself (host) Episode: "Chadwick Boseman/Cardi B" [111]
2021 What If...? T'Challa / Black Panther Guest voice role; posthumous release [112]

Playwright

Years Title Role Notes Ref.
1993 Crossroads Playwright Unproduced College play [113]
1997-00 Rhyme Deferred Co-writer
Performer
Part of the Hip Hop Theatre Anthology The Fire This Time. [114]
2002 Hieroglyphic Graffiti Playwright Produced at Negro Playwright's Theatre
Kuntu Repertory Theatre
the National Black Theatre Festival
the Hip Hop Theatre Festival.
[115]
2005 Deep Azure Playwright Produced by Congo Square Theatre Company
work-shopped at the Folger Shakespeare Library
the Apollo Theater.
[116]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2002 AUDELCO Awards Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Urban Transitions Won [22][23]
2006 Joseph Jefferson Awards Best New Play Deep Azure Nominated [22][117]
2008 Hollywood Black Film Festival Best Short Film Blood Over a Broken Pawn Won [22]
2013 Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Performer 42 Nominated [118]
2014 Black Reel Awards Outstanding Breakthrough Performance, Male Nominated [119]
2014 American Black Film Festival Most Promising Performer Nominated [120]
2014 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Nominated [121]
2014 Dublin Film Critics' Circle Best Actor Get on Up Nominated [122]
2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival Virtuosos Award Won [123]
2015 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Nominated [124]
2015 Black Reel Awards Best Actor Nominated [125]
2016 Teen Choice Awards Choice Movie: Chemistry Captain America: Civil War Nominated [126]
Choice Movie: Scene Stealer Nominated
2017 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Nominated [127]
2017 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards #SQUAD Nominated [128]
2017 Saturn Awards Best Supporting Actor Nominated [129]
2018 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Marshall Nominated [130]
2018 Black Reel Awards Best Actor Nominated [131]
2018 MTV Movie & TV Awards Best Performance in a Movie Black Panther Won [132]
Best Hero Won
Best Fight (Black Panther vs M'Baku) Nominated
Best On-Screen Team
(with Lupita Nyong'o, Letitia Wright and Danai Gurira)
Nominated
2018 BET Awards Best Actor Marshall and Black Panther Won [133]
2018 Saturn Awards Best Actor Black Panther Nominated [134]
2018 Teen Choice Awards Choice Sci-Fi Movie Actor Nominated [135]
Choice Liplock Nominated
Choice Movie Ship Nominated
2018 People's Choice Awards Male Movie Star of the Year Won [136]
Action Movie Star of the Year Nominated
2019 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture Won [137]
2019 Black Reel Awards Outstanding Actor Won [138]
2019 Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards Favorite Movie Actor Nominated [139]
Favorite Superhero Nominated
2019 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture Won [140]
Entertainer of the Year Nominated
2019 BET Awards Best Actor Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Endgame
Nominated [141]
2020 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture 21 Bridges Nominated [142]
2020 Gotham Independent Film Awards Best Actor Ma Rainey's Black Bottom Pending [143]

Honors

Honorary degrees

Location Date School Degree Gave Commencement Address
 District of Columbia May 12, 2018 Howard University Doctor of Humane Letters (DHL)[144] Yes[145]

Notes

  1. ^ a b Sources conflict on whether Boseman was born in 1976 or 1977. Obituaries list his age at death as 43, making his birth year 1976.[1][2][3]
  2. ^ Jackie Robinson Day is April 15, but in 2020 was observed on August 28 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

References

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  2. ^ Rose, Tammy (October 29, 2014). "Chadwick Boseman Signed To Five Marvel Studio Movies As The Black Panther". Inquisitr. Archived from the original on July 27, 2020. Retrieved 2020. Chadwick Boseman was born on November 29, 1976.
  3. ^ "UPI Almanac for Wednesday, Nov. 29, 2017". United Press International. November 29, 2017. Archived from the original on July 2, 2019. Retrieved 2019. Chadwick Boseman in 1976 (age 41)
  4. ^ https://www.rollingstone.com/movies/movie-features/the-black-panther-revolution-199536/amp/
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  8. ^ "SC natives star in Jackie Robinson biopic "42". Myrtle Beach, South Carolina: WMBF-TV. April 13, 2013. Archived from the original on June 14, 2020. Retrieved 2020. Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, where he attended T.L Hanna High School.
  9. ^ "'Black Panther' star buys hundreds of movie tickets for underprivileged children". WTIC-TV. February 20, 2018. Archived from the original on June 14, 2020. Retrieved 2020. Boseman was born and raised in Anderson...
  10. ^ Field, Carla (March 7, 2018). "'Black Panther' star talks about racism he experienced growing up in Anderson". Greenville, South Carolina: WYFF. Archived from the original on June 15, 2020. Retrieved 2020. He was born and raised in Anderson, where he attended T.L Hanna High School.
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