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Chadwick Boseman: African American actors are told their popularity and movies don’t travel overseas

Black Panther star’s recently acquired Most Popular U.S. Actor In China award helps to debunk such claims, though.
Chadwick Boseman at the CAFF
[Image: G&E Studio]

Chadwick Boseman recently picked up the Most Popular U.S. Actor In China award at the 13th Annual Chinese American Film Festival. During his acceptance speech he pointed out that African American actors are repeatedly told their films and popularity “don’t travel overseas,” and noted that this accolade helps to debunk such claims. 

“I’d like to give honor to God, my ancestors, my parents, who I come from. Thank you to the Chinese American Film Festival for this award, which I am very surprised by,” Boseman began after picking up the gong, which is determined by the CAFF Committe. Boseman then explained, “As African American actors we are told that our popularity and our movies don’t travel overseas. So I cherish this award immensely.”

Boseman and his films, which have included “42,” “Get On Up,” “Gods Of Egypt,” “Captain America: Civil War,” “Marshall,” and next year’s “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War,” are just the latest examples that the lazy conclusion that ‘African-American films don’t travel’ is a Hollywood myth.

Over the past 18 months the likes of “Straight Outta Compton,” “Hidden Figures,” and “Moonlight” have also flourished financially overseas. The fact that they achieved so much without big name actors and while also distinctively reflecting African-American lives highlighted that the real reason others had failed was that they were either just bad films or had been poorly marketed based on these past assumptions.

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As a March, 2017, Los Angeles Times article explained, whenever an Eddie Murphy, Samuel L. Jackson, Morgan Freeman, Will Smith, Kevin Hart, Denzel Washington, or Don Cheadle film succeeded internationally it was decided that the actors had “transcended race,” while various anomalies were found and used to explain the triumphs of other films with a predominantly African American cast, too.

The fact that Chadwick Boseman joins past winners Gal Gadot (2016’s Most Popular U.S. Actress - despite being Israeli), Tyrese Gibson (2016’s Most Popular U.S. Actor), and Michelle Rodriguez (2015’s Most Popular U.S. Actress) in collecting this accolade emphatically underlines just how wrong this myth and the searching for such excuses is.

Let’s just pray that Hollywood actually recognizes that’s the case, and finally does something about it.

You can watch Chadwick Boseman accepting the Most Popular U.S. Actor In China award at the 13th Annual Chinese American Film Festival by clicking below.