For her role as leader of the special forces team in new smash Marvel movie Black Panther, Danai Gurira had to shave her head. She shares the experience.
Getting Her Head Around The Role
It gave her pause for thought, that moment when she realised she was going to have to shave her head for her dream role as Okoye. Okoye leads the all-female, all bald, Wakandan Special Forces known as the “Dora Milaje.” According to the Marvel database, the team is selected from every Wakandan tribe taking their best and forming both a formidable security team as well as a pool from which the unmarried King can select a bride.
The Day Of The Shave
Gurira, when asked to reflect on the transformation, shared the experience. “It was amazing the idea of the Dora Milaje, the concept of them, and then to see them come to life, and then these outstanding women who I started training with one by one. Like I was the first one to get my head shaved and in theory it sounded amazing. Then the day came and we’re doing it today and I was like, “Today?” Then it happened. Then you go into the restroom to wash your hands and you look up and you’re like, “What the?” So that took a few days, and then all the girls start coming in. We”d all been balded, one by one. Everybody had their caps on. Then the pride started to grow.”
A Strong Statement
Gurira’s character, Okoye, at a special moment in the film for us, is wearing a wig as a disguise during one of the most spectacular fight scenes of a movie stuffed to the gills with the spectacular. Okoye, in the middle of the scene, complains about having to wear the wig and discards it.
Like any self-respecting Hollywood blockbuster there is no shortage of quote and comment being generated. Our runaway favourite quote takes us back to Gurira and our favourite subject. She said, speaking about the moment in the film where Okoye sheds the wig, “The beauty of how director and co-writer Ryan Coogler wrote that moment, I love that moment where she doesn’t want a wig. She doesn’t want to cover up. This is her joy and her pride, in walking with that bald head, with that tattoo on it. I was like, it’s so subsversive, and it’s so subversive in the right way to say that’s not necessarily beauty. You don’t have to have hair to be beautiful.”
HIS Hair Clinic
Black Panther is a remarkable film challenging some of Hollywood’s most entrenched ways of doing things. That they took the time to take on female hair loss at the same time is to be commended, that they did it by making bald women a central and powerful force at the heart of their film… well, they have our gratitude. Let’s hope they get recognised when the baubles get handed out.
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