“With Viola Davis it is impossible to have the Impostor Syndrome”: ‘The King Woman’, fascinating in front of and behind the cameras

A film directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood about the Amazons of the Kingdom of Dahomey that hits theaters this Friday, November 25 and already smells like an Oscar.

A couple of months ago it arrived at the theaters on the other side of the pond and it is already rumored that Viola Davis (57) could make history at the oscars with the king womana film directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (The old guard, The secret life of bees) set in the powerful African kingdom of Dahomey, a long-defunct ancient African state that existed during the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries, and was characterized by its army of female soldiers. known as “the Dahomey Amazons”these women are the central axis of the expected feature film, which is set in the 1820s and inspired by real events and which hits Spanish cinemas this Friday, November 25, with great expectations.

In it, Davis plays Nanisca, the leader of a new generation of Agojie warriors andIn the kingdom of Dahomey, whom he has the mission of training so that they are prepared to fight against their enemies and end the abuses, violation of rights and slavery of their equals. Accompanied by a promising cast that also includes Thuso Mbedo, Lashana Lynch, Sheila Atim and John Boyega, among others, Viola Davis not only stars in, but also produces the film that could take her record as the most Academy Award-nominated black actress in Hollywood history to a new level.

Viola Davis has been nominated for four Oscars in her career. The first one for The doubt (2008), in which he co-starred with Meryl Streep, and the second would not come much later with maids and ladies (2011). The third nomination, in 2016, allowed him to take his first statuette home with fences (2016) and the fourth would be with The mother of the blues (2020). Now, a fifth nomination would add a new title to the record he already has, but, if she wins, she would also be the second black woman to win an Oscar in the title role, and the first black actress to win multiple Oscars.

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the king woman

the king woman now arrives in Spanish movie theaters, but It has already seen the light in the United States and other countries with an excellent reception and collection. The critics dedicate the most forceful adjectives to it, such as “magnificent” or “fascinating”, while praising his “absolute sensitivity” in telling the story. About Davis there is also consensus: the actress is simply “brilliant”.

Working with Viola Davis, “a ‘masterclass’ on how to be the best actress in the world”

“The experience of working with Viola [Davis] was that I not only got a master class in acting, but I got a master class in being human, because of how generous and kind she is”Thuso Mbedo stated in statements to SensaCinema on the occasion of the premiere of the film. In the king womanMbedo plays Nawi, a singular recruit who has spent most of her life alone and who clashes with Naniska from the beginning, as they both realize everything they have to learn from each other.

“Nawi has great determination to achieve a dream she doesn’t even know is achievable,” says the young actress, proud of her character. “And how does she get into this [el ejército] It’s not even part of his plan. […] She finds herself in a space where she has to take care of herself first, be independent, solve her problems, be a DIY person. Everything in her has been made by herself. She doesn’t need a man to get anywhere. She has spent most of her life alone so when she joins the army she is hard because she bumps into Naniska. She doesn’t know how to respect authority and it’s something she has to learn to survive in this environment but also Naniska can learn a lot from her, which is what we see in the movie.”

sony pictures

the king woman

Despite his youth, The cast of leading actresses who accompany Davis in the Gina Prince-Bythewood film agree that they felt comfortable always together with an actress of the stature of the veteran interpreter. An authentic ‘masterclass’ not only of interpretation but at all levels. “She’s crazy,” says Lashana Lynch, one of the soldiers who fights alongside Viola Davis’ Naniska, about the importance of never feeling intimidated despite sharing really powerful scenes with an actress of the veteran’s level.

Viola is such an amazing soul, a wonderful human being and with her you never get Impostor Syndrome. Like you can’t go toe-to-toe with a number one and you have to constantly prove things. Here we were all in the same boat and we had to make sure that everything was going well. And we were a unique cast because Viola did it that way. [Lashana Lynch]

“From day one she talked to us about her personal experiences, she was there for us, she really cares about the job and each one of us. We were able to develop with her this natural sisterhood that the characters have in the film. And it was very easy to do it “, says Lynch. “She leads by example,” adds Sheila Atim. “She is passionate about her job but she is also passionate about social policy and she always carries that with her.”

We’re all going through the same thing and it doesn’t matter how far you’ve come in your career. We’re all still, especially as black women in this industry, experiencing the same thing. And Viola reminded us of that every day just by looking at her. Working with Viola is a masterclass on how to be the best actress in the world. [Lashana Lynch]

Pride of belonging to the lineage of these women

Regarding your experience in the film, they all agree on how special it has been for them to be part of a project with which they could experience a feeling of belonging absolutely unusual from the start. “I belonged there. I wasn’t challenged in an environment where I felt like an outsider, which is often the case, where you feel like you have something to prove to people who may not even understand you,” says Atim. . “I was challenged in an environment where I also had a sense of belonging. Which I think has to do with the environment of working with the actors, but also with the story itself.”

“I am a Jamaican woman born in the UK and I have always been searching to understand where I come from, why I think the way I think, why my body is shaped this way, how I can physically do the things I do.… All these things,” admits Lynch. “And I think I’ve found a point of rapprochement through this film.”

Those characters are finding their belonging in many ways, not just because they are black women, but also because of what each of them has gone through to get to that point. And I was able to experience that while playing someone who was experiencing that. [Sheila Atim]

“When I was playing Izogie and when I was watching the other actors play their characters, I thought, ‘We are these people. We are literally a manifestation of them,” Lynch said proudly. “Y It made me very proud to potentially come from this lineage of women who were able to stand up for themselves and be a force just by being themselves. How skilled they were, how together they formed the sisterhood they had, the ecosystem they created for themselves with their culture, their spirituality, and how they channeled their emotions.”

John Boyega felt the same way, who embodies a naive young King who only wants to make good decisions and finds himself at a crossroads, during filming in africa: “Shooting: Shooting in Africa was beautiful, it’s your home. It was my first time in South Africa and I was really happy to be there. I found a feeling of being at home, of culture. It was great.”

“With Viola Davis it is impossible to have the Impostor Syndrome”: ‘The King Woman’, fascinating in front of and behind the cameras