Radio Lessons #112 – Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman, best known for playing the title role in Marvel’s Black Panther, passed away aged 43. He was a real-life hero – not only as the King of Wakanda.
Chadwick took film roles that were meaningful, empowering and told the stories of pioneers. In 42 he played Jackie Robinson, the first African American to play baseball in the Major Leagues; he brought James Brown to life in Get On Up and broke the race barrier in Marshall, the story of Thurgood Marshall, the first black US Supreme Court Justice and civil rights champion.
In 2018 with Black Panther, he took the Marvel Universe to a place that was as much superhero movie as it was a celebration of African culture. It was a game changer, breaking box office records and earning seven Academy Award nominations.
Behind the scenes, Chadwick’s ‘Black Panther Challenge’ helped underprivileged black children see the film for inspiration – to grow up with confidence and believe anything is possible. The success of the movie saw Disney pledge a million dollars in his name to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America – money funnelled into development of math and science programs for greater child learning.
Even through his rigorous filming schedule, he found time to regularly visit St Jude Children’s Research Hospital to see young cancer patients. Oh, and he was an outspoken member of the Black Lives Matter movement!
A hero. All while facing his greatest battle of all, one he would ultimately lose against Colon Cancer. Chemo, multiple surgeries and the toll of the disease did not hinder his commitment to his work or his causes; and perhaps most significantly – no one knew he was even unwell.
Chadwick knew that. He understood that his fan base’s outpouring of shock and sadness and sympathy would only serve to dilute the power of his work both on and off the screen. Like the Wizard Of Oz, the magic disappears when the curtain is pulled back.
It’s the same in radio. Authenticity is important, but too many shows overshare the minutia and only serve to drag the listener through their dirty laundry to Disinterested-ville. No one cares if your computer froze, the audience isn’t compelled when you explain why a bit didn’t quite work, and even P1s really aren’t concerned with you feeling tired today.
It’s showbiz – put on a show. Somedays technology will let you down, your cohost will let you down, your body will let your down, but your job is to smile for the audience and deliver what they want, what they need and what they expect.
Vale Chadwick. Wakanda forever.