When it was time to start filming “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” in 2020, the first thing director Ryan Coogler did was take the film’s cast and crew to visit Chadwick Boseman’s grave.
“Something magical happened there,” said Camille Friend, lead hairstylist for the “Black Panther” film series. “We had to pray and dance and sing, there were drummers – I think that moment healed everyone’s heart and made us say, ‘OK, we’re going to do ‘Wakanda Forever’ – we’re going to do it. do for Chadwick.'”
Boseman, who died in August 2020 from stage four colon cancer, played the lead role of Black Panther, or T’Challah, in the first film in the series, which premiered in 2018.
Landing in theaters this Friday, the second film depicts the people of the fictional land of East Africa, Wakanda, picking up the pieces after the loss of their king, with the trailer hinting at the rise of a new Female Black Panther.
“The first thing that me and Ryan [Coogler] started talking was Shuri and Ramonda,” said Friend of T’Challah’s sister and mother, played by Letitia Wright and Angela Bassett, respectively. “His thought was that they would have shaved their heads in mourning for T’Challah’s death.”
To signify the characters’ mourning, Friend and Coogler ultimately opted for shorter hair for both, with Shuri sporting a curly, high fade and Ramonda saying goodbye to her long, silver-gray locs.
“With Nakia, who is played by Lupita [Nyong’o]I knew her hair was going to change because she left Wakanda, became self-sufficient and lived in Haiti,” said Friend, who added Nakia’s signature red-haired locs, which were styled in Bantu knots — which Friend said. coined as “Wakanda Knots” – in the first movie.
“A lot of factors went into the design of the design this time around – we wanted to demonstrate the passage of time and how each character would have evolved since the first film,” said Friend, who is the skincare brand’s multicultural influencer. capillaries for Procter. & natural and curly hair care brands from Gamble, My Black Is Beautiful and Gold Series.
When she joined the first film, Friend had no idea what a resounding cultural impact it would have. It wasn’t until her Instagram DMs started blowing up after the first press screenings, and even more so once the film was released to the public, that she realized the film’s significance.
“You never know what kind of impact a movie is going to have,” Friend said. “‘Black Panther’ was a pleasant surprise – all I knew then was that I was a black woman, and I told Ryan Coogler that we wouldn’t be using curling irons, we’ll do it in an all-natural way, and he was like, ‘Go for it.’
In his creative direction for “Wakanda Forever”, Friend sought to continue to combine historic African inspirations – such as Senegalese warriors, on whom the film’s Jabari tribe was loosely based – with experimental and futuristic styles to bring influence from the first film to new heights. .
“I don’t have any superhero powers, but I know I’m a superhero because that’s how I walk – that’s how I talk and what I bring,” said said Friend, for whom “Black Panther”‘s most significant impact was showing black people, through all of the film’s futuristic marvels and portrayals of black excellence, that they can free themselves from the limitations placed on them imposed by others.
“I love it when people send me pictures of their kids on Halloween and they want to be Nakia or Black Panther. That portrayal that happens in ‘Black Panther’ is so important because when kids and people see in movies, they think, “I can do that, I can be that.
It’s this mission that has united Friend with hair care brands My Black Is Beautiful and Gold Series, which the hairstylist has partnered with to launch limited-edition “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” product packs now available at Target. , Walmart and Kroger.
“What makes this partnership so amazing is that you can’t be more black, and more black joy, than Black Panther is,” said Lela Coffey, vice president of North American hair care. and multicultural hair brands at Procter & Gamble.
The specialty packs, which contain products from My Black Is Beautiful’s Golden Milk Collection and Gold Series’ Core Collection, address the needs of natural and curly hair.
With My Black Is Beautiful striving to put black joy first, and Gold Series having been formulated by black scientists, the brands found a natural synergy with Camille’s lens and the “Black Panther” domain.
“What’s great about ‘Black Panther’ isn’t just that it’s a Marvel movie – it’s a chance for young black men and women to see themselves as kings and queens. on the big screen, doing things that aren’t the typical lived experience that a lot of people think of black people,” Coffey said.
“For me, ‘Wakanda Forever’ is even better than the first movie,” Friend said. “I want people to know and feel that our hair is beautiful no matter how you wear it. I don’t care if it’s straight, natural, if you were a weave or a wig – whatever you do , I want you to know that you are beautiful.