Oscar award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o. AFP PHOTOOscar award winning actress Lupita Nyong’o. AFP PHOTO
By HILARY KIMUYU

Kisumu city has been chosen for the premiere of the much anticipated movie Black Panther that features Hollywood actress Lupita Nyong’o.

The movie will open on February 16 worldwide. However, residents of Kisumu will get to watch it on February 13 as an honour to the actress.

Speaking to Sunday Nation, Imax marketing manager Flora Njagi said they chose Kisumu because Lupita was “a girl from that soil”.

Lupita plays Nakia, a Wakanda spy and former flame of new king T’Challa, who is often sent on missions around the world. King T’Challa’s role is played by Chadwick Boseman.

Nakia, as has been portrayed in earlier Black Panther episodes, is a girl in the class of Dora Milaje, or wives-in-training.

“As a child, Nakia of the Q’Noma Valley marsh tribe was picked by her tribal elders to be Milaje, and spent three years training before being presented to King T’Challa; barely a teenager,” explains marvel.com.

“She was instantly smitten with him, although he promised that her role was purely ceremonial. She became close friends with her fellow Dora Milaje, Okoye, but was immediately jealous of T’Challa’s American fiancée Monica Lynne,” it adds.

An Oscar winner for her turn in 12 Years a Slave, Lupita is no stranger to the blockbuster arena, having previously appeared in the Star Wars sequel trilogy. Asked in a previous interview about which was more intense, she simply answered, “This.” (Black Panther)

TOP MOVIE STAR

Lupita, 34, is arguably Africa’s top movie star in Hollywood, and has gone past what some call the “Oscar curse” and the terrors that inevitably followed it.

“The fear of failure was just as high as the high of success,” she said in a recent interview with Vanity Fair magazine. “Because I could fall, and I could fall far.”

She also admitted that it was not easy for her and that there was too much pressure to deliver when she was cast. The cast and crew were all too aware of the public interest.

“Yeah, it was intense, and it continued to be so with every announcement of who’s joined the cast and everything. It was a lot of pressure on us,” she said.

For Lupita, playing Nakia meant learning to speak with the same accent the movie had adopted, mastering the complexity of clicking sounds.

“There’s three different clicks, like three different letters,” she told Variety. The role necessitated an intense, six-week boot camp before shooting commenced in Atlanta in January 2017.

“It started off four hours a day, then it was reduced to two when I started bulking up — I remember coming home for Christmas and I couldn’t fit into my clothes,” she recalls.

“We would have warm-ups together, then break off and do our individual techniques. Nakia is a street fighter, so I had jujitsu and capoeira and ring blades.”

STARRING ROLE

She’s a brand name in films from Queen of Katwe, shot in Uganda, to The Jungle Book, a fashion icon whose image has appeared on four Vogue covers (the first black actress to do so), and who has a lucrative deal with Lancome — an ironic twist for a woman who acknowledges that, deep down “there is a part of me that will always feel unattractive”.

And as for the real-life Disney princess Lupita, whose talents have been mostly hidden behind motion-capture or animated characters, a starring role in an action film is exactly what she needs.

Apart from the superhero film Black Panther, Lupita already has another hotly-anticipated project in the pipeline, the Disney/Lucas film’s Star Wars: The Last Jedi, which will premiere in December.

Lupita recently completed an independent Australian film, Little Monsters. She would like to return to the stage but has not yet committed to a new vehicle.

And she is starting to produce as well as act, with several projects in the works, including a mini-series based on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s award-winning novel Americanah, about a young woman who leaves then-military-led Nigeria for America. She’ll also star in the adaptation.

In Kenya, according to Imax, there will be a special Valentine’s viewing at Anga Sky Cinema in Nairobi and the first show for the public will be at Anga IMAX on February 15, with the management saying people have already booked their tickets.

“This is the first time we are seeing people buying tickets for a film weeks in advance, we expect a full house on our first shows,” said Ms Njagi.

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