There’s a reason Wakanda, the fictional setting for Marvel’s Black Panther, is the most advanced nation in the world. According to film star Danai Gurira, it has to do with its lack of gender inequality.

“I really do say, ‘Wakanda forever, indeed,’ because it really portrays a place where those problems don’t exist,” Gurira said during a Sirius XM town hall discussion on EW Radio. “And we can see how it actually, go figure, is the most advanced nation on the globe.”

Chadwick Boseman plays Wakanda’s newly crowned king, T’Challa, but his dominion is also home to the Dora Milaje. Gurira traded her Walking Dead samurai sword for a spear as Okoye, the head of the all-female strike team that defends Wakanda from threats. Lupita Nygong’o also plays a member of the Dora Milaje, as does Florence Kasumba (who famously said “move or you will be moved” in Captain America: Civil War).

Meanwhile, Letitia Wright plays T’Challa’s sister, Shuri, the tech genius behind Black Panther’s vibranium-weaved suit and gadgets.

“It really is something to really learn from when women are able to realize and actualize their greatness and their fullest potential without it being something that is highlighted in some garish way,” Gurira said. “But it’s just there, it’s just what is and everyone understands — the king understands, the men understand, everyone gets it. This is what allows our nation to advance and to be progressive and to be at the forefront.”

“That really is the thing,” she added. “Do we want to progress? If we want to progress, let women be all they can be. Don’t get in their way.”

Ryan Coogler of Fruitvale Station and Creed directed Black Panther, and it was his vision that convinced Gurira to take the role.

“I was so excited to be a part of this and I sat down with Ryan, but I needed to hear the vision, which was so fantastic and so rooted in authenticity and real powerfully interesting women because that’s deeply important to me — how women of African descent are portrayed, especially on this scale,” she said.

Black Panther hits theaters this weekend. The full town hall with the cast aired on SiriusXM’s EW Radio on Thursday.

Black Panther
Directed by Ryan Coogler, the 2018 superhero film is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name and stars Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa, the king who rules over the Afrofuturist paradise of Wakanda.
  • Movie
  • 135 minutes
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