Michaela Coel Joined Black Panther 2 For A Very Specific (And Wonderful) Reason

"I May Destroy You" and "Chewing Gum" star Michaela Coel is a powerhouse both in front of and behind the camera. The shows she conceived, wrote, and starred in made her a household name, but now she's filling even bigger shoes in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."

The performer recently revealed that she decided to sign onto the new Marvel film after learning an important fact about her character, Aneka, a combat instructor and captain in the film. "That sold me on the role, the fact that my character's queer," Coel told Vogue for her November 2022 cover story. "I thought: I like that, I want to show that to Ghana."

Coel is also Ghanaian herself, so it was important to her to bring that representation to her home country — especially since homosexuality is against the law in Ghana, where a person can get up to three years in prison for same sex conduct. Additionally, there is a proposal for a new law on the books that would make being gay a second class felony.

"People say, 'Oh, it's fine, it's just politics,'" Coel added about her home country and how it affected her decision to join the film. "But I don't think it is just politics when it affects how people get to live their daily lives. 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."

The early legacy of Michaela Coel

It's no surprise to see Coel rooting the strength of her performance in the real and tangible. She's known to be able to do such things in both comedic and dramatic contexts, and has undeniably set the bar for miniseries and television work in both genres in recent years.

Her work in "I May Destroy You" — as the creator, head writer, director, and star — is a masterclass in performance, tension, comedic timing, and vulnerability. It garnered heaps of praise when it premiered in the United States, and prompted fans to seek out her first TV show, "Chewing Gum," which was a beloved hit in the United Kingdom before Coel made a splash stateside. "Chewing Gum" has a completely different tone than "I May Destroy You" — when I tell you it's one of the funniest shows you'll ever watch, trust that I don't exaggerate — but it equally demonstrates her talent as a writer and performer.

It will be so exciting to see Coel take on the persona of a hardened queer warrior in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever," a character that will surely only bolster her impressive oeuvre of performances thus far.

"Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is scheduled to be released in the United States on November 11, 2022.