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Just one day after reports first filtered in that Lupita Nyong’o will produce and star in an adaptation of Trevor Noah’s memoir, Born a Crime, the Black Panther actress appeared on the late-night host’s Daily Show and described how the deal came about.
“When we first spoke about this book, you were like, ‘I love this book, I love this concept, I love everything about it,'” Noah said at the end of his interview with Nyong’o on Wednesday night’s show.
Nyong’o then told the assembled audience that Noah wasn’t being entirely truthful with them. “The truth is I was on the set of Black Panther, I pre-ordered the book, got it, read it and I sent you an email,” she said. “And I said, ‘Trevor, please will you do me the honor of letting me play your mother.'”
Noah then joked that he waffled about letting her star in the film until she sent him pictures of her muscles, at which point, he told himself, “That’s my mom, that’s my mom.”
Earlier in the segment the pair talked about Nyong’o’s role in Black Panther, which already has broken records at the box office in its first weekend. Nyong’o explained why her character, Nakia, has an atypical romance with Chadwick Boseman’s leading man, T’Challa, in the film. Nakia is T’Challa’s ex when the movie begins, and as the film goes on, T’Challa comes more fully to terms with her requirements and goals in life.
“[Director] Ryan [Coogler] really wanted to tell a different story about love. In these kinds of genres the love interest is being pursued and she’s won in the end. … Ryan wanted to free us from that and show us a different look — what it means to be in a relationship and have agency in that relationship,” Nyong’o said.
She also addressed why none of the black women in the film have straightened hair. “It goes back to what is innately considered beautiful on the continent. Before the advent of the white man, black people were doing all kinds of things with their hair,” Nyong’o said. “The rejection of kinks and curls did come with the white man.” The people of Wakanda, the fictional country where the majority of Black Panther takes place, she said, were embracing themselves.
Watch the full interview below.
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