Gina Prince-Bythewood wants audiences to join her on a journey through West Africa, where the historical kingdom of Dahomey protect its land and its people with the assistance of the Agojie, female warriors trained from an early age to be the best of the best in all forms of combat. Think of them as the Dora Milaje, the fierce soldiers who guard Wakanda in Black Panther… primarily because the Dora Milaje were inspired by the actual Agojie. And in Prince-Bythewood’s hands, the story of the Agojie told through The Woman King is proving to be a critically acclaimed Oscar contender, and a possible vehicle for Viola Davis to earn her second statue.
In the film, currently in theaters, Viola Davis plays Nanisca, veteran leader and overall mentor for the Agojie warriors. The entire Woman King cast looks up to and respect Nanisca because of the battlefield experience she brings to the table, which are reflected by the many scars found on the woman’s body. When we spoke with Davis about the addition of the scars to her body, and the meaning behind each for her character, she opened up to CinemaBlend and exclaimed:
You can tell that the women of the Agojie in The Woman King take pride in the fact that they have emerged on the other side of a battle, damaged but still intact. As Viola Davis states, it’s visual proof that you have experienced life, and endured hardship, but figured out how to prevail. But as Davis notes, this is not a lesson that has to be contained to the West African kingdom of Dahomey. As she notes in our interview:
Amen! If you need more reason to see The Woman King in theaters this weekend beyond what is shown in the original trailer, read our review because it may help convince you. We also spoke with director Gina Prince-Bythewood and producer Cathy Schulman on CinemaBlend’s ReelBlend podcast earlier this week, and their insights into the movie are also a really great way to process what you saw after the fact. The movie stars Davis, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim, John Boyega, and a brilliant newcomer named Thuso Mbedu, who might get into the Oscar race if there’s any justice in this world.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.