Danai Gurira pays tribute to Black Panther costar Chadwick Boseman: 'How do you honor a king?'
In the 2018 blockbuster, the actress portrayed Okoye, a fierce warrior who protects Wakanda and its king T'Challa, played by Boseman.
“How do you honor a king? Reeling from the loss of my colleague, my friend, my brother. Struggling for words. Nothing feels adequate," the actress wrote on social media. "I always marveled at how special Chadwick was. Such a pure hearted, profoundly generous, regal, fun guy."
"My entire job as Okoye was to respect and protect a king. Honor his leadership. Chadwick made that job profoundly easy," Gurira, 42, continued. "He was the epitome of kindness, elegance, diligence and grace. On many an occasion I would think how thankful I was that he was the leading man I was working closely with. A true class act. And so perfectly equipped to take on the responsibility of leading the franchise that changed everything for Black representation."
"He made everyone feel loved, heard and seen. He played great, iconic roles because he possessed inside of himself that connection to greatness to be able to so richly bring them to life. He had a heroic spirit, and marched to the beat of his own drum; hence his excellence as an artist and the incredible courage and determination as he faced life’s challenges; while still guiding us all," she wrote. "He was zen and sweet and funny (with the very best laugh), attentive, and truly, truly, good. I can’t even wrap my mind around this loss. A loss resonating in my own heart as well as around the globe. The children he inspired, my heart aches for them, to lose their hero just as they finally found him. I am so thankful to have taken the Black Panther journey with him. To have known him, spent time in his light and leadership and to call him forever a friend.”
Gurira's words echoed that of many of Boseman's colleagues, who talked about how kind, thoughtful, and serious the late actor was about his craft in their tributes.
Earlier Sunday, Black Panther director Ryan Coogler shared an emotional statement about Boseman, recounting the actor's dedication to bringing to life the monumental Marvel movie.
"Chad deeply valued his privacy, and I wasn’t privy to the details of his illness. After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him," Coogler wrote. "Because he was a caretaker, a leader, and a man of faith, dignity, and pride, he shielded his collaborators from his suffering. He lived a beautiful life. And he made great art. Day after day, year after year. That was who he was. He was an epic firework display. I will tell stories about being there for some of the brilliant sparks till the end of my days. What an incredible mark he’s left for us."
Gurira closed the tribute with the Xhosa phrase, “Lala Ngoxolo Kumkani,” which roughly translates to “Sleep in peace, O King.”
ABC will air a commercial-free screening of Black Panther on Sunday, as a tribute to Boseman. It will then be followed by a special celebrating Boseman's life, legacy, career, and the cultural imprint he made both on and off-screen. He will also be honored by celebrities, political figures, and fans across the world, who were touched by his work and the man himself.