In his interviews and TV appearances, Chadwick Boseman was always composed, elegant, perceptive. The Howard University alum, who can fire off a few jokes here and there, seemed to have lived his life trying to evoke the greatness of the legends he had played on screen—professional baseball player Jackie Robinson in the movie 42 (2013), singer James Brown in Get on Up (2014), and the first African American Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in Marshall (2017). The immensity of his onscreen personas lies opposite to his rather quiet and shy demeanor behind the film camera.
He got larger than life when he rightfully played T’Challa, the king of a fictional nation called Wakanda, in Marvel’s record-breaking movie Black Panther (2018). In the many press junkets and tours for the cultural phenomenon, the audience and his fans luckily got to see the different sides of Boseman, and his many principled thoughts that make us believe that in some other universe Chadwick Boseman really is king.
Here are a few inspiring quotes from Boseman, who passed away today, August 20, after silently battling colon cancer for the past four years. The fact that he made movies, did what he loved, and inspired people, while going through his struggles, should be enough reason for us to bestow on the guy a great deal of respect.
“You would rather find purpose”
“Graduating class, hear me well on this day. This day, when you have reached the hill top and you are deciding on next jobs, next steps, careers, further education, you would rather find purpose than a job or career. Purpose crosses disciplines. Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Whatever you choose for a career path, remember, the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose.”—From Howard University 2018’s Commencement Speech
“When God has something for you”
”When God has something for you, it doesn’t matter who stands against it. God will move someone that’s holding you back away from the door and put someone there who will open it for you if it’s meant for you. I don’t know what your future is, but if you are willing to take the harder way, the more complicated one, the one with more failures at first than successes, the one that has ultimately proven to have more meaning, more victory, more glory then you will not regret it.”—From Howard University 2018’s Commencement Speech
“There’s no deus ex machina”
“Everybody is the hero in their own story. You should be the hero on your own story. You should be. You should see yourself conquering the dramatic action of whatever you’re trying to do, so when you get to the crisis, you know how to deal with it. You should be able to do that. And there are people that come in and help you with your story, but you have to be the person who deals with the conflicts that are in place. There’s no deus ex machinathat’s gonna come in and save it for you. Even if you pray to God, God expects you to do some things.”—From The Daily Show with Trevor Noah (2018)
“Audiences want to see difference”
“I’ve noticed change. I’ve seen a willingness of production companies and studios to castings in a way that they wouldn’t normally do. You can’t make certain statements about a black lead, or a black cast, or having a certain number of people of colour – it’s not just black actors – anymore. In fact, it’s been proven that audiences want to see difference. They want to see variety and a world that reflects them whether it be race, gender, or sexuality. They want to see those things, so I think people are looking for opportunities in storytelling now.”—Esquire, on the game-changing impact of Black Panther
“This can’t mean that much to them”
“It’s a humbling experience because you’re like, ‘This can’t mean that much to them.’ You know. But seeing how the world has taken this on, seeing how the movement, how it’s taken a life of its own, I realized that they anticipated something great. I think back now to a kid, and just waiting for Christmas to come, waiting for my birthday to come, waiting for a toy that was going to [arrive], that I was gonna get a chance to experience, or a video game. I did live a life waiting for those moments. What put me back to the mind of being a kid, just to experience those two little boys in anticipation of that movie…it means a lot.”——During a SiriusXM event, Boseman was asked about Black Panther’s Cultural impact. To answer the question, he shared a story about two kids named Ian and Taylor, who had cancer, and with whom he communicated during filming. Boseman was told the kids were trying to hold on until the movie comes out. He broke down in tears as he was finishing his story
“The greatest conflict you will ever face”
“What they don’t realize is the greatest conflict you will ever face will be the conflict with yourself.”—From Time.com (2018), on the relationship between T’Challa and his rival Killmonger
“Hopefully, it’s about the life”
“Hopefully, I’m just happy. You know what I’m saying? Hopefully, I’ve, you know, done everything with my family that makes them happy. Hopefully, the life—it’s not about career—it’s about the life experiences that you’ve done, that you wanna do.”—On how he sees himself in ten years, From Larry King (2018)
“To be young, gifted and black”
“To be young, gifted and Black. We all know what it’s like to be told that there is not a place for you to be featured. Yet you are young, gifted and Black. We know what it’s like to be told there’s not a screen for you to be featured on, a stage for you to be featured on. We know what it’s like to be the tail and not the head. We know what it’s like to be beneath and not above. That is what we went to work with every day. Because we knew that we had something special that we wanted to give the world. That we could be full human beings in the roles that we were playing. That we could create a world that exemplified a world that we wanted to see.”—From the 25th Annual SAG Awards Acceptance Speech