Actress and filmmaker Angela Bassett played the role of mother to Chadwick Boseman’s King T’Challa in Black Panther. Following the tragic news of Boseman’s recent passing after a four-year battle with colon cancer, Bassett took to Instagram to post a picture of the two from the film, and share an anecdote about the first time the two had met, many years before Black Panther:
“It was meant to be for Chadwick and me to be connected, for us to be family. But what many don’t know is our story began long before his historic turn as Black Panther. During the premiere party for Black Panther, Chadwick reminded me of something. He whispered that when I received my honorary degree from Howard University, his alma mater, he was the student assigned to escort me that day. And here we were, years later as friends and colleagues, enjoying the most glorious night ever!”
Before becoming a Hollywood royal, Chadwick Boseman was a Howard University student. It was there that Boseman met Angela Bassett for the first time during the actress’s honorary degree ceremony, that Bassett had forgotten about until Boseman reminded her. While studying at Howard University, Boseman enrolled in a theater program at Oxford University that was paid for by Denzel Washington, which set him on the path to becoming an actor.
While Bassett needed to be reminded of her first fleeting introduction to Boseman in his student days, the two grew close on the sets of Black Panther, and Angela Bassett remembered their days together while paying tribute to Boseman as an actor and a human being:
“We’d spent weeks prepping, working, sitting next to each other every morning in makeup chairs, preparing for the day together as mother and son. I am honored that we enjoyed that full circle experience. This young man’s dedication was awe-inspiring, his smile contagious, his talent unreal. So I pay tribute to a beautiful spirit, a consummate artist, a soulful brother…”thou aren’t not dead but flown afar…”. All you possessed, Chadwick, you freely gave. Rest now, sweet prince.” #WakandaForever”
The bond between Black Panther and his mother Ramonda, played by Bassett, was one of the emotional cornerstones of his film and showcased a softer side to King T’Challa that was sometimes lost among his duties as king and protector of his people.
The family’s story arc was cut short by the events of Avengers: Infinity War after both Shuri and T’Challa died at the hands of Thanos wielding the infinity gauntlet. The arc was finally completed at the end of Avengers: Endgame, when Hulk snaps everyone back into existence, and Ramonda is shown to be reunited with her two children in Wakanda.
Most of the leading cast of Black Panther and the larger MCU family have issued statements mourning the loss of Chadwick Boseman and remembering his contributions to the world as an actor and a world citizen. Tributes have also been pouring in on social media from the actor’s global fan following in the form of artwork, essays, and fanmade videos dedicated to Boseman.