Body Positivity surrounding Black Panther’s Winston Duke

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Body Positivity surrounding Black Panther’s Winston Duke

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“Black Panther” was a world-wide success that quickly developed an extremely powerful fan base including both those who already enjoy Marvel movies and those who were new to the franchise. Everyone seemed to fall in love with the plot involving the king of a fictional (and wonderful) African country and his journey as the Black Panther, which involved an enhanced state of being accompanied by the abilities given to him by a high-tech suit created by his genius sister, Shuri.

Fans of the movie have been abuzz with praise for leading man Chadwick Boseman, along with Letitia Wright who plays Shuri, and frightening yet beloved villain-actor Michael B. Jordan, but also for an actor who played the slightly smaller but still important role of M’Baku: Winston Duke.

M’Baku is the leader of the Jabari tribe in Wakanda, and serves as somewhat of an ambivalent force in the “Black Panther” movie.

Initially he poses as a threat to T’Challa and challenges his fellow Wakandan to a fight to see which is worthy for the throne of Wakanda. T’Challa, of course, wins, but this is not the end of M’Baku’s role in the movie.

The character later returns to help T’Challa in his journey to stop Killmonger.

M’Baku’s unexpected helpfulness, while appreciated, is not what fans of his character have been raving about online.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe includes many actors that have driven fans wild with their looks for years, including 2014’s “Sexiest Man Alive” Chris Hemsworth.

As it turns out, Winston Duke is being included in recent discussions about these said “hot” Marvel actors.

Duke, however, is surprised by the public praise for his looks.

“I’ve thought about it a lot, and I have a lot of feelings about it. I just wanna say thank you to a lot of what is actually black women who have rallied around me and started and spurred all of this,” Duke stated in an interview with The Root, “For them to tell me I’m beautiful and for them to tell me I’m attractive and for them to show their affection this way is really great. And I’m humbled by it, to be honest with you.”

To see an actor be so humble about his good looks is charming, but it’s also impressive to see Duke give credit to black women in particular.

Unfortunately in today’s society, tension between races is not uncommon. Black women are a group that often go under appreciated, but not in this case.

The excitement surrounding Duke’s appearance has a lot to do with the lack of appreciation for actors of color.

“[Being a black actor in Hollywood is] not mainstream. And that doesn’t sell. And I’m glad that they’re saying that not only does it sell, it’s sexy and it’s fire. I wanna thank them for that. They’re more in control of changing the paradigm of what they consume. And if they’re clamoring for a Winston Duke, if they’re clamoring for Anthony Mackie, they’re clamoring for all these other variants of blackness in the media—cuz it’s not blackness in society; you see this all day. We see this every day, but we don’t see it on-screen. I wanna say thank you to them,” Duke said to The Root.

Fans can look up to Duke and see someone who is confident in himself and admired by many (for good reason), and is still humble. All of these traits are of course extremely beneficial to one’s character and the fact that Duke is fueling more self-love within his community of fans is undeniably respectable.

It is always refreshing to see actors appreciate their fans, and Winston Duke is certainly excelling in that department. Duke is a role model not only for his fans, but other actors of color that are trying to get into the industry.

Like Duke stated in his quote, it’s generally harder for actors of color to gain appreciation than it is for white actors. “Black Panther” was a triumph for the black community, featuring a plethora of successful black actors that make the movie so incredible.

The widespread appreciation for Duke and his co-stars by fans and other members of Hollywood is a huge advance in the film industry. “Black Panther” as a film has made so many advancements for black actors with the majority of its cast being of color, for women with its multitude of strong female characters, and for those struggling with their body image with Winston Duke standing as their inspiration.

Duke does not exactly fit the mold of the “stereotypical Hollywood hottie”, but that is not a bad thing. The film industry is a huge part of society with its influence over viewers and its portrayal of different ideals. One important concept in Hollywood is the idea of beauty, which for a while only included very specific characteristics. The fact that the idea of beauty in Hollywood and in society is expanding is a very important advance.

Actors like Winston Duke show that beautiful can be many things, and people that look very different from the “common mold” can still be widely appreciated. This, of course, is how things should always be, but unfortunately that is not the case. The increase in importance of body positivity and considering more diverse looks to be beautiful are certainly leading society in a much better direction.


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