BLACK VOICES

Here Are The Black People Behind The Scenes Who Made 'Black Panther' A Reality

Representation behind the camera matters, too.

It goes without saying that “Black Panther” does a damn good job at empowering black people on screen. But that wasn’t reserved solely for in front of the camera.

The crew that made this highly anticipated film a reality was very inclusive, with black people and women in many of the lead roles. Director Ryan Coogler, production director Hannah Beachler and costume designer Ruth E. Carter are just a few of the folks who made Wakanda, the fictional African nation where the movie is set, into a cinematic reality. 

It matters that many of the people behind the scenes who are helping tell this story are black. They bring a cultural understanding to the set that can’t be learned, and they help elevate the film with a specific kind of nuance and sophistication. They should be celebrated for their work, too.

Here are seven folks who made the magic of “Black Panther” happen from behind the camera.

  • Ryan Coogler
    "Black Panther" is the third film Coogler has directed, following "Fruitvale Station" and "Creed." The 31-year-old Oakland na
    The Washington Post via Getty Images
    "Black Panther" is the third film Coogler has directed, following "Fruitvale Station" and "Creed." The 31-year-old Oakland native told the San Francisco Chronicle that he used his own struggles with his cultural identity and desperate need for positive representation of Africa on screen as fuel for this project. 

    “You see media that can make you feel ashamed to be African. They can make it feel like it’s a shameful thing,” Coogler said. “I think it’s not. For me, the biggest thing on this was making this awesome, globe-trotting political thriller that just happens to be about Africans. It’s the best way to accomplish that goal and that’s what Marvel was interested in doing — that’s what I was interested in doing.”
  • Hannah Beachler
    Beachler, the film's production director, built the nation of Wakanda. Beachler, who also worked on Beyoncé's visual a
    Jesse Grant via Getty Images
    Beachler, the film's production director, built the nation of Wakanda. Beachler, who also worked on Beyoncé's visual album "Lemonade," said she looked at the work of modern architects who designed on the continent as well as traditional aspects of the diaspora.

    "I drew from a lot of different places, I think, and keeping the tradition involved in the aesthetic and the design language was of the utmost importance, because it’s about black representation, the black future and agency using architecture and history and science and myth and biomimetics, and biomorphosis, and all of that went into the design," she told Film School Rejects.
  • Joe Robert Cole
    Joe Robert Cole is the co-writer behind "Black Panther." Along with Coogler, Cole drew inspiration and themes from the c
    Alberto E. Rodriguez via Getty Images
    Joe Robert Cole is the co-writer behind "Black Panther." Along with Coogler, Cole drew inspiration and themes from the continent of Africa and infused them into the fictional nation of Wakanda. 

    “For so long there was a limited pool of people who had the opportunity to tell stories so that limited the perspective of the story being told. I think there is a fatigue with that perspective,” Cole told The Guardian. “This is a movie that steps out of that in an amazing way. There’s a hunger for new lenses on the world, new ways of seeing stories. We spoke from our perspective."
  • Ruth E. Carter
    Carter, a legendary costume designer who's worked on dozens of classic films, is the mastermind behind the fil
    Jesse Grant via Getty Images
    Carter, a legendary costume designer who's worked on dozens of classic films, is the mastermind behind the film's wardrobe. She found inspiration from tribes on the continent -- including the Maasai, the Dogon and the Chakana -- and put an Afrofuturistic twist on the costumes.

    "We wanted to honor [culture and tradition] in this futuristic way and a lot of the details of the indigenous African tribes easily translate into a futuristic model so that part of it was super fun to do and it was like no one had even really thought of it like that," she told HuffPost.
  • Nate Moore
    Moore broke barriers in bringing "Black Panther" to the big screen. The executive producer, who's worked on several
    Paras Griffin via Getty Images
    Moore broke barriers in bringing "Black Panther" to the big screen. The executive producer, who's worked on several other Marvel films, told CBS News that this kind of representation is essential and he hopes it can create a ripple effect.

    "There's such an underserved population of people just aching for positive images of themselves on screen," he said. "In this case, obviously the African-American and African communities seeing representations like T'Challa and Nakia and Okoye and all these great characters in the context of doing good and being heroic is valuable because those images don't exist that much. And so I think and I hope this movie can be a watershed to see other films like this."
  • Camille Friend
    Friend is the mastermind behind the gorgeous, natural hairstyles that defy gravity and sprinkle a little extra magic on the world of Wakanda. As head of the hair department for the film, the stylist told The Root that she brought traditional, contemporary and futuristic African styles to help tell the story and represent black hair in a glorious way.

    "We had an important job to do, and I looked at it in a whole different way, because it represents my people," she said.
  • Douriean Fletcher
    Fletcher created the jewelry and armor that adorns the Dora Milaje, the women of Wakanda's special forces team
    John Lamparski via Getty Images
    Fletcher created the jewelry and armor that adorns the Dora Milaje, the women of Wakanda's special forces team. The jeweler worked closely with Carter to deliver the accessories needed to equip the fictional kingdom.

    "Ruth liked what I consider to be an ancient yet futuristic aesthetic and with her understanding of my skill set, creativity, innovation and work ethic, she saw it fit for me to take on such a critical role for this project," she told the Los Angeles Sentinel.
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BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
'Black Panther' Premiere Celebrates African Royalty
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