For years, Viola Davis has been a powerhouse of the screen – an Oscar-winning titan whose performances in the likes of Fences, widowsand Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom have made her one of the most popular actresses of the moment. Now she’s stepping up to bring her “magnum opus” to the screen as both star and producer – get ready for The female kingan action-packed historical epic about the Agojie, or Amazons of Dahomey, an all-female black military force that existed in West Africa in the 1800s. Their story is one Davis has long wanted to tell — and with the director Gina Prince-Bythewood on board, they do just that, with Davis as Agojie General Nanisca.
Presenting this story of black women warriors not only offers moviegoers a slice of untold history, but it is a statement of intent to tell the story of celebrating a group in society that is far too often marginalized or rendered invisible. “This movie is my response to that,” Davis said. Empire in the new Dragon House publish. “This movie isn’t even my respectful response to that. It’s an illustration of the insurmountable beauty, strength, vulnerability, femininity and absolute power of the dark-skinned black woman. is our way of redefining who we are, and I think from the first moment you walk into this movie, you’ll see that in a very beautiful way.
Assuming the role of Nanisca – who leads warriors including Lashana Lynch’s Lt. Igozie, Sheila Atim’s Lt. Amenza, and Thuso Mbedu’s newest recruit, Nawi – was something that required considerable strength from Davis, and not just physically. “I think it’s very difficult to train a group of young women to suck in their vulnerability in order to fight,” she explains. “To dig deep and find that warrior spirit that understands that you have to fight for something bigger than yourself – and it can cost you your life. It was difficult for me. But despite everything, the Agojie are a formidable fighting force, The female king is just as much about portraying their plumpness as people. “We wanted to show these women as whole women,” says Prince-Bythewood. “Their vulnerability was as important as their ferocity, and they had an incredible brotherhood.” Get ready for a historical war movie like you’ve never seen before.
Lily Empireis full The female king feature in the next Dragon House issue – on sale Thursday, August 4 and available for pre-order online here. The female king hits UK cinemas from 4 October.