Angela Bassett is in rare form in the newest edition of ESSENCE Magazine. The beloved Hollywood icon—who received the beautiful comic book treatment thanks to artist Darius Moreno—stuns on the cover and opens up about her highly anticipated forthcoming film, Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and the keys to continually thriving in the industry after all these years.
Leading up to Black Panther 2's release, several cast members have opened up about how hard it was moving forward with the film due to the loss of their “leader” and leading man, Chadwick Boseman. Even director Ryan Coogler contemplated bowing out on making the film upon first hearing the news of his death. However, despite the seemingly insurmountable loss, for Bassett, returning to make the film was something she knew she had to do despite the apprehension and butterflies she felt.
“There are these two things that we were dealing with: the loss of our leader and trying to meet the expectations of an audience,” Bassett explained to ESSENCE. “The mantle is monumental, but it’s not so heavy that we can’t accomplish what we all gathered together to do.”
Perhaps it’s learning how to overcome tough situations that’s proven to be key when it comes to Bassett’s longstanding success in the industry. That, coupled with the determination to make an impact no matter what, is undoubtedly what led to the veteran actress becoming a true icon and one of the highest paid actresses of color on television. But no matter the size of the check, the 9-1-1 actress makes it clear that it’s not always about the dollar amount but the substance of the story that let’s her know whether or not to take on a project.
“I’ve done projects where you’re getting paid the minimum. The whole thing, they’re going to pay you $5,000. I think I did that last year,” Bassett revealed. “I’ve directed where it’s like, ‘Are they even paying me?’ I don’t know. I’m not checking for it because I’m learning. It’s not always about money. Sometimes it is, and a lot of times I’ve turned things down because the project’s not right, or the situation’s not right, or the story’s not right. You always want the muse to show up. As they say, all money ain’t good money.”
She later added, “Interest in our stories ebbs and flows over time, and not always are women like me, darkened by the sun, cast as the lead. So you have to look for other opportunities, where you can have a voice and make your mark and say something.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, starring Angela Bassett, Letitia Wright, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Winston Duke, Florence Kasumba, Michaela Coel, Dominique Thorne, Tenoch Huerta, Martin Freeman, hits theaters Nov. 11.