When I walked on the set as Nanisca, I felt unapologetic about it: Viola

Inspired by real women warriors — an all-female fighting force called the Agojie, the historical epic movie follows their story as they fought battle after battle in order to protect the African kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s.
Viola Davis
Viola Davis

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s The Woman King is to release in India on October 14 this year, its makers have announced.

Inspired by real women warriors — an all-female fighting force called the Agojie, the historical epic movie follows their story as they fought battle after battle in order to protect the African kingdom of Dahomey in the 1800s. Talking about her role, Viola says, “I spent four years at a training school where I felt like I had to cover up who I was in order to be a great actress. I had to really fool you into believing that I wasn’t Black with my body, with my voice; that I had to be sort of a prototype of what we deem as feminine.” She explained, “The Woman King breaks all the rules. In the hearts and minds of every woman out there, they wish for that. They hope for that. They hope for a space where they can just sort of bust out of all those confines and say, ‘Here I am and I like it,’ where they can be in the arena of belonging.”

She also takes us through prepping of her role and tells us, “All the things that I was taught when I was a girl wanting to win the Miss Central Falls Recreation contests, wanting to look good in a bikini, wanting to be thin and cute, delicate, and pretty, while I was always really muscular and thicker, I was always feeling like my femininity could not be created with this canvas. Then, all of a sudden, with this role, my muscles, my arms, my thick legs, my heavy voice were perfect. When I walked on the set as Nanisca, I felt unapologetic about it. I celebrate it physically, in every way.”

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