By Stephanie Woods-McKinney
The Harlem-based New York Association of Black Journalists were invited to attend a private movie ‘Advanced’ screening and Q&A of ‘The Woman King.’
The event included director Gina Prince-Bythewood and rising star Thuso Mbedu which was held at the Directors Guild Theater in New York City.
The evening was a night of glam, good times and industry folks anxiously awaiting to check the hottest film out since ‘The Black Panther‘. The night began with cocktails, shrimp-kabobs, mini sliders and of course unlimited ‘wine and champagne’-The perfect elements for a ‘Hollywood’ star studded event!
Morgan Stanley spared no expense ensuring that all attendees felt special and lucky enough to receive an invite to such an affair.
The Q&A was moderated by Gil Robertson, Founder and President of the African American Film Critics Association and Sandra L. Richards, Managing Director, Head of Global Sports & Entertainment and Segment Sales & Engagement at Morgan Stanley Wealth Management. According to screen writer and director, Gina-Prince-Bythewood, the movie was 6 years in the making-and a big ‘thank you’ went out to actress ‘Triple Threat-Academy Award, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Tony’ award winning actress/producer” Viola Davis for ensuring that this story was told-by her and husband Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions along with TriStar Pictures.
Never before has a movie been made by true events of a ‘Black’ all female warrior army located in the kingdom of Dehomey West Africa. The female fighters were ensembled by General Viola Davis and the all-female army is made up of young unruly, disobedient, untamable and insubordinate young women ages 8-14 estranged from their families and sent to the ‘Kings Palace’ to protect the kingdom.
The Agojie Worriers are not only dark skin beautiful women, but the beauty in the making of the film-which is made up by an (all) Black (all) female production crew!
This film has many elements of an Oscar win which includes the soundtrack. According to Gina, it was vital to have African instruments used for the battle and the score. The collaborations with Terence Blanchard and South African composer Lebo M. (Lion King-Circle of Life) was a vital part of the film, as there was no soundtrack for the 1800s-so it was important to Gina to have the score monumental. Sadly, the research was based on information from the perspective of ‘White-men’ and Gina states “connecting the dots from the French and colonialism proved challenging, but they were able to take most of the ‘authentic’ investigation and finalize an award-winning story of true events.
The enchanting location and footage brought calm and piece to an alarming fact that women were being mistreated and dehumanized. These female fighters were no match for the powerless men and their strength in numbers along with their sisterhood was unequalled. The audience will have the opportunity to see an essence of ‘Black-strong and powerful’ women whom each are not only strong and have a sense of purpose and these fighters take pride in protecting each other.
Thuso Mbedu, a South African actress demonstrated her best most powerful performance. According to Thuso, “she lived her life apologizing for her existence, but she felt comforted from the beginning-as during the audition process-she felt her voice mattered – “we hear you, we see you and you’re valuable to us!” Thuso agrees this is her best performance of her career.
Call For Action
Gather family, friends, sororities, fraternities, churches, schools, book-clubs any and everyone must see this epic film which is truly– “Black Excellence” Gil Robertson.
Viola Davis, Thuso Mbedu, Lashana Lynch, Shelia Atim, John Boyega, Jordan Bolger and a host of others.
Stephanie Woods-McKinney is a Bronx native who graduated Magna Cum Laude from The College of New Rochelle with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Liberal Arts. She is a vocal community activist who sits on Community Board #10 in the Bronx; is a Co-chair of the Youth & Education Committee and holds a deep love for Hip Hop culture and community activism.
Stephanie writes throughout NYC, and Harlem, she has also received countless awards and letters of recognition for her hip-hop photojournalism and the most recent ‘Citation of Merit’ from then Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams. https://www.linkedin.com/in/stephanie-w-2637a229/
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