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Danai Gurira pays tribute to 'Black Panther' co-star Chadwick Boseman: 'How do you honor a king?'

·Editor, Yahoo Entertainment
·5 min read
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Danai Gurira is mourning the death of her Black Panther co-star Chadwick Boseman.

The actress broke her silence after Friday’s shocking announcement that Boseman succumbed to colon cancer after a secret, four-year battle with the disease.

Gurira, who worked alongside Boseman in the film, playing Okoye to his T'Challa, admitted she was “reeling from the loss of my colleague, my friend, my brother,” who she described as “pure hearted, profoundly generous, regal [and] fun” as well as the “epitome of kindness, elegance, diligence and grace.”

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“How do you honor a king?” she began her post, which included several photos including their empty Black Panther chairs side by side. My entire job as Okoye was to respect and protect a king,” referring to Boseman’s character. “Honor his leadership. Chadwick made that job profoundly easy.”

She continued, “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.”

Gurira said Boseman “made everyone feel loved, heard and seen. He played great, iconic roles,” also including Black icons like Jackie Robinson (42), James Brown (Get on Up) and Thurgood Marshall (Marshall), “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.”

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 30: (L-R) Chadwick Boseman and Danai Gurira attend the 50th NAACP Image Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 30, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for NAACP)
Chadwick Boseman and Danai Gurira attend the 50th NAACP Image Awards at Dolby Theatre on March 30, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo: Paras Griffin/Getty Images for NAACP)

She also spoke of how “zen” he was and funny, saying he had “the very best laugh.” Describing how “truly, truly, good” Boseman was, she admitted, “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.”

She ended the post by writing, “Lala Ngoxolo Kumkani,” meaning, “Sleep in peace, O King” in Xhosa, the language spoken in the fictional African nation of Wakanda.

The tributes continue to flow in for Boseman, whose death shocked Hollywood. In the statement issued by his family, it noted that the “true fighter” was diagnosed with colon cancer four years ago, but continued to make movies while never making his diagnosis public.

Sterling K. Brown, who appeared with Boseman in Black Panther and Marshall, said in his own Instagram tribute to the star on Sunday, “Little did I know that the whole time I knew him that he was living with cancer,” making it clear that Boseman kept his health issues private even among his intimates.

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Black Panther director Ryan Coogler paid tribute to Boseman over the weekend and many other of the film’s stars reacted to the news, including Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Forest Whitaker, Winston Duke and Andy Serkis.

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Meanwhile, Micheal B. Jordan — who became extremely close to Boseman making the film — is reportedly “struggling” and “beyond sad” by his friend’s death. Entertainment Tonight reports he’s at a loss for words after being “rocked” by the news. Jordan, said to be more like a brother than a friend to Boseman, is trying to figure out the best way to honor his co-star's legacy, but right now “silence is his pain.”

Lupita Nyong’o has not yet spoken out about the shocking news either.

Boseman’s family also said in its statement that he felt it “was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther. Disney previously announced a sequel to the film was in development for 2020.

ABC aired the superhero film commercial-free on Sunday night and it was followed by an ABC News special tribute to the film’s star. Many high profile celebrities — Chris Evans, Angelina Jolie, Robert Downey Jr. and Whoopi Goldberg included — celebrated Boseman’s impact on and off the screen.

On Monday, Boseman’s Get on Up director Tate Taylor shared a tribute as well — and we expect there were be many more in the days and weeks to come.

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