Marvel Studios Lupita Nyong'o in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)
Speaking recently with Digital Spy and other outlets, the 39-year-old actress admitted to having some initial "frustration" over her character Nakia being "an example of someone [who] is just a little further along in terms of her processing" the death of King T'Challa (the late Chadwick Boseman).
Nakia's arc is in contrast to that of T'Challa's little sister Shuri (Letitia Wright).
"I remember in the beginning, reading the script, I was so envious of Letitia because she gets to be chaotic and that's how I felt," the Oscar winner explained.
Nyong'o added, "I felt wrong and, you know, wanted to express it."
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Matt Kennedy/Marvel/Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection Lupita Nyong'o and Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018)
Eventually, Nyong'o was able to come to terms with the fact that her character is able to give Shuri something she once also offered to T'Challa.
"It's not like [Nakia] has it all figured out, but in the first film, [director/co-writer Ryan Coogler] described her as T'Challa's oasis and that really, really resonated with me," she said. "So when I was reading this script and thinking about where she is, I realized that what she was once to T'Challa, she now has the opportunity to offer Shuri."
For Nyong'o, Nakia's arc "made a lot of sense in terms of the structure and architecture of the story," she said, citing the "exploration of grief" in the film, which was made after the death of the original 2018 film's star Boseman.
"The fact that she was T'Challa's love, in a way I guess it allows an audience to know that it's okay," Nyong'o continued of Nakia.
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"I had to look beyond my frustrations with losing Chadwick and learn from [Nakia], learn from that wisdom that she seems to possess," Nyong'o said.
An official synopsis from Marvel states that Wakanda Forever follows Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett), Shuri (Wright, 29), M'Baku (Winston Duke), Okoye (Danai Gurira), Nakia (Nyong'o) and Everett Ross (Martin Freeman) as they "fight to protect their nation from intervening world powers in the wake of King T'Challa's death."
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever opens in theaters Nov. 11.