What Chadwick Boseman Taught Me

Last weekend’s news of the passing of Chadwick Boseman left me senselessly sad. Senseless because I cried and mourned someone I’ve never met. Sad because Hollywood, indeed the world, lost an upright and impactful man much too early. Here, in what I hope is a tribute fit for a king in my own way, I share what I learned from following his career. Further down I share some charities doing work in the fight against colon cancer. I hope you consider donating to some or all of them.

You can have such a great impact in such a short time. We celebrate him and mourn him as if he’s been in 100 movies. The type of celebration he received is almost, permit me to respectfully say, Denzel Washington-sized, and that’s a great thing. This says to me it is not about the numbers; it’s about the impact you make.

It’s not about how fast you progress or when you progress; it’s about the impact you make. I first caught wind of Chadwick Boseman when he was on the show Lincoln Heights (2007-2009). I knew then he was special. To my disappointment, I didn’t see him again for a few years. I wondered where in the world he disappeared to and why. I know now he was busy, just not busy on the shows that I watched. Then I started seeing him in biopics and in Marvel movies. I was thrilled to see him as a part of the MCU! Even then some people still had no idea who he was. Then Black Panther made it big and he was for sure a household name! That’s just how amazing that movie was! He did something remarkable with that movie!

People are watching your progression and are taking note. I surely did. I was impressed with what I saw on Lincoln Heights. I was even more impressed with his movie Message from the King, which made me pay attention to his other more popular films.

Stick to what you believe fits your values and who you are. From watching his career, I sense a pattern of purpose in storytelling. He wasn’t selecting any ole’ role that came his way. He was thoughtful about his portrayals because he was thoughtful about what it would mean to him and for him.

No matter what kind of success you attain, stay humble. With all the touring, interviews, and speeches he did individually and with his castmates, I noticed a sense of humility with how he spoke of the movie, himself, and his castmates. I noticed he was graceful. I noticed his castmates willingly let him represent them and speak on their behalf. I don’t know if it was planned that way but certainly, he spoke of them with respect, loyalty, and love. He knew it wasn’t the Chadwick Boseman show. It was a team effort.

There are people who still want to, and surely, live life off the radar of the public and social media eye. It seems to me privacy these days is a rarity. His life is evidence that you can still live your life privately. A part of me feels like social media is a pseudo tabloid news outlet and we are pseudo self-made celebrities. Social media does not make what happens in your life true, valid, official, essential, or meaningful. Life existed before social media, and life will continue to happen without social media.

There are still trustworthy people out there. I’m amazed, stunned actually, that he battled cancer for years and not one person in his life sold him out to the tabloids. Either he’s got some really solid people in his corner or I am very distrusting of people.

Do everything with excellence. His acting was done with grace, intentionality, purpose, and excellence. Watching his interviews about Black Panther, I could tell he studied not only his craft but every element of the production and writing. He articulated the intricacies, nuances, and depths of the storyline from different perspectives. He saw Black Panther more than entertainment. He did more than entertain; he inspired.

You never know what a person is going through; be kind! Earlier this year he posted a video of himself and it was apparent that he lost significant weight. Social media had a field day with that post! I was surprised at such rude behavior. These are probably the same people who will “mourn” him, say RIP, and talk about his greatness. Maybe he didn’t want the pity. Maybe he didn’t want the distractions. Maybe he wanted to face his battle with dignity. Here’s a novel idea: maybe it just wasn’t our business to know his personal matters. He dealt with his battle the way he wanted to deal with it and it sifted out his true fans from those who were simply following him because of his fame. Social media will have you saying, “hail the king” one minute and then “slay the king” the next. It’s not always wise to follow the crowd.

Pray for the people you admire. For those who believe in the power of prayer, you know that prayer is not activated simply because you are acquainted with someone. It is activated by faith. In recent years I’ve been challenged to pray for the musicians and influencers who impact my life. Yes, they do big things, but they are human too. They need prayers too. Pray for their peace, their protection, their growth, their family, and for the strength to keep doing what they’re doing. Being a fan is more than following them on social media, or on tours. Being a true fan means supporting them, even in prayer.

I so wish I could shout, “bring back my T’Challa”, and it would happen. But this is beyond a snap of the fingers turning him to dust. This hit hard! The reality of this loss just dawned on me before penning this piece. I was waiting for someone to pinch me or wake me up. Sadly, I’m still waiting.

My longtime friend (we’re high school buddies 😊) at Pink Trumpet, LLC has kindly located a few charities that are doing work on colon cancer that you can donate to today. Pink Trumpet, LLC is an organization doing good work in the social sector by connecting people to great causes, vetting legitimate nonprofits, and finding solutions for philanthropists. Be sure to check them out online and on Instagram.

I heard that Chadwick Boseman has a couple more productions being released in the next year. That may very well be the last time we see him in any new shows or films. I’m not sure if there are others in the works, and if there are, I gladly welcome them. Even if there aren’t, I will carry with me the lessons his life of strength, self-respect, grace, purpose, and excellence brought to the screen and to the world. Wakanda forever. 🙅🙅

Photo Credit: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP

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