Winston Duke rose to international fame playing M’Baku in Marvel’s “Black Panther.” But although the Wakandan stands strong and confident, the man who portrayed him didn’t have the most security in his features. That is until women — Black women in particular — made him a heartthrob.
“At the end of the day, it’s been women from all over the world and all different cultures, but it was really started and driven by Black women and I wanna thank them for that,” he tells Newsweek Wednesday, April 25. “I have not always been in a position to think that the things that made me who I am have always been positive. My height and my size have also made me look like an aggressor without trying. And to now be in a space where they’re saying that’s what makes me beautiful and that’s what makes me disarming, that’s really humbling and it feels really good.”
Still, that doesn’t mean Duke is much like his character. He also said that he can’t go “barking at people when they speak to me out of turn” and even though the actor said he could learn something from the M’Baku’s unapologetic nature, he still has to get through life as a Black man in America.
“There’s still a lot of politics of surviving and living in our culture that I have to navigate. I don’t come from privilege, like this character. I don’t live in a world that hasn’t been affected by all the big-isms of the world. So I don’t have the luxury to exist the same way he does.”