Disney’s ‘Black Panther 2’ Star Michaela Coel Says It’s Important Her Character Is Queer: ‘That Sold Me on the Role’

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Global Citizen/Marvel/Disney
Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Global Citizen/Marvel/Disney

Screenwriter and actress Michaela Coel said she joined Disney-owned Marvel’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever because “my character is queer” and she felt it was “important for me to step in” and tell a LGBTQ story, which she hopes the anti-gay country of Ghana will see.

Coel recently confirmed to Vogue that her character’s sexuality is what “sold” her on starring in the Black Panther sequel.

In Black Panther 2, the actress will be playing captain and combat instructor Aneka, who falls in love with her warrior colleague Ayo, played by Florence Kasumba, and their prohibited affair causes problems in the ranks.

“That sold me on the role, the fact that my character’s queer,” Coel said. “I thought: I like that, I want to show that to Ghana.”

British actress Michaela Coel arrives for the 2021 Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art on September 13, 2021 in New York. – (ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty Images)

While the actress was born in the United Kingdom, she is of Ghanaian descent, and like many African countries, Ghana has anti-LGBTQ laws.

Additionally, Ghana’s parliament is currently reviewing new legislation that would reportedly make identifying as gay or even a supporter of the LGBTQ community a second-​degree felony, punishable by five years in prison.

“People say. ‘Oh, it’s fine, it’s just politics.’ But I don’t think it is just politics when it affects how people get to live their daily lives,” Coel said. “That’s why it felt important for me to step in and do that role because I know just by my being Ghanaian, Ghanaians will come.”

Coel’s “queer” character is not the first time Marvel Cinematic Universe has featured an openly gay hero on the big screen.

In 2020, Marvel promoted its first man-on-man gay kiss in its film, The Eternals.

Actress Angelina Jolie reacted by saying she was “proud” that Marvel refused to cut Eternals scenes featuring the openly gay superhero for Middle Eastern countries that censor LGBTQ content, adding that anyone who doesn’t “appreciate” gay content in movies is “ignorant.”

You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.


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