Scream Star Mason Gooding Wrote About The Impact Of Chadwick Boseman's King T'Challa

Mason Gooding has entered the pop-culture consciousness, and he's not going anywhere. The twenty-five-year-old actor stars in the Hulu teen series "Love, Victor" and the upcoming HBO Max sci-fi rom-com "Moonshot" (which debuts in March), but it's his role in the latest "Scream" franchise entry that has moviegoers talking. As the varsity jacket-rocking athlete Chad Meeks-Martin, Gooding — the son of Oscar-winner Cuba Gooding Jr. and grandson of the late soul singer Cuba Gooding — charmed directors Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and Tyler Gillett so much that they even amended the script to change his character's fate.

Variety published an essay by the "Booksmart" actor as he celebrates "the impact of Black entertainment and entertainers on the world at large," with a special focus on the film and star that made him feel seen — Marvel's "Black Panther" movie and Chadwick Boseman, who plays the title character in Ryan Coogler's 2018 superhero picture and who passed away in 2020 at age 43, following a battle with cancer. Gooding writes:

 I will never forget the first time I saw Ryan Coogler's "Black Panther." Obscured among a sea of enraptured faces, I sat fixated on what an adolescent version of myself would have never thought possible. Call me a skeptic, but the over-abundance of heroes, idols and icons that more often than not looked nothing like me eventually allowed my psyche to slip into the dangerous notion that perhaps the way I looked was not in line with how the rest of the world saw a "protagonist." That's certainly not to belittle or invalidate the remarkable accomplishments achieved by any and all heroes or leaders that came before my time; merely that I had not been made aware of their influence and progressive contributions to society that I have the privilege of enjoying today. I sat quietly amongst the audience, engrossed with a sense of communal pride as the movie began. What followed was, for me, entirely transformative.

'Seeing, oftentimes, truly is believing'

Gooding goes on to explain how "Black Panther" came to be a defining piece of art for him, simultaneously laying down the significance of the film for Black Americans at large:

Despite it being apparent to any and all who knew him or were lucky enough to watch him work, I feel it worth mentioning that Chadwick Boseman was profound; he was entirely unique and prolific, on and off the screen or stage, and in all aspects of his life. For the rest of the world, his iconography and influence on the zeitgeist of entertainment today is something remarkable to bear witness to, like a time capsule of Black excellence that embodies how seeing, oftentimes, truly is believing. It was in watching Chadwick as T'Challa that I began to believe in myself. I saw a version of myself, my brother, my friends, that I had only afforded myself in my wildest imagination; in this, I was not alone, but one of millions. For the first time in forever, I was meeting myself, and I liked what I saw.

The adventure doesn't end here: the "Black Panther" sequel, originally slated for a July 2022 release, has just resumed production, with a freshly recovered Letitia Wright (who plays T'Challa's tech-savvy sister Shuri in the 2018 movie) ready to get back to shooting. Coogler returns to write and direct, and the studio has previously announced that they would not be recasting Boseman's role of T'Challa. "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" is scheduled to release in theaters on November 11, 2022.