Duke Man Crush Monday: Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Aaron Boseman was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, by his African-American parents, Carolyn (née Mattress) and Leroy Boseman. His father had an upholstery company in addition to working at a textile industry, and his mother was a nurse. Boseman trained in martial arts as a child and has continued to do so as an adult. He always dreamed of being an architect. Boseman said that DNA tests revealed that some of his ancestors were Yoruba people from Nigeria and Krio and Limba people from Sierra Leone.

Boseman graduated from T. L. Hanna High School in 1995, where he participated in basketball. In his junior year, he created his first play, Crossroads, and staged it at the school. It turned out fantastic. Still at T. L. Hanna, he participated in speech and debate competitions sponsored by the National Speech and Debate Association. In Original Oratory, he finished ninth in the 1995 National Tournament.

He was courted to play basketball in college, but he decided against it and enrolled at Howard University in Washington, D.C., where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in directing in 2000.

After completing his studies in directing at Howard University, Boseman launched his career in theater. His play Deep Azure from 2005 was nominated for a Jeff Award and he was awarded a Drama League Directing Fellowship and an acting AUDELCO.

His first significant role on film was as a series regular on the NBC drama Persons Unknown in 2010. He then received critical acclaim for his portrayal of baseball player Jackie Robinson in the 2013 biographical film 42. He kept portraying historical people, appearing as James Brown, a singer, in Get on Up (2014) and as Thurgood Marshall, an attorney, in Marshall (2017).

Boseman gained recognition worldwide for his role as Black Panther, a superhero from the Marvel Comics, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), which ran from 2016 to 2019. He had appearances in four MCU movies, including the 2018 film of the same name, which won him an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. He was also included in the 2018 Time 100 for becoming the first black actor to play the lead role in an MCU movie. Boseman received a posthumous Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Character Voice-Over Performance for his final appearance as the character in the Disney+ anthology series What If…? (2021).

Boseman was given a colon cancer diagnosis in 2016. He however kept working till his death from it in 2020.

He received praise for his final movie, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, which was released posthumously that same year and garnered him nominations for the Academy Award for Best Actor and the Golden Globe for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama.

The most nominations for a performer at a single ceremony went to Boseman for his roles in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and Da 5 Bloods, for which he won Male Actor in a Leading Role at the 27th Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Taylor Simone Ledward, a singer, and Boseman started dating in 2015. In a statement mourning Boseman’s passing, his family stated that the couple secretly wed after being engaged by October 2019.

Boseman received baptism and was brought up as a Christian. He participated in a church choir and a youth group, and according to his previous pastor who mentioned that Boseman still maintained his faith.

Boseman sponsored a variety of charities in addition to acting. In a message to a producer days before his passing, Boseman asked about how to send gifts to children with cancer. He worked with cancer charities, such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and continued to support those fighting the disease up until his own death from it. He gave the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem $10,000 in order to support the Black Panther Challenge, which was founded by a New Yorker in order to generate money for kids like these all around the country, and to provide free tickets for kids who wanted to see Black Panther. As a result, Disney gave the Boys & Girls Clubs $1 million to help them with their STEM programs.

The Jackie Robinson Foundation said that Boseman assisted with their youth outreach following his passing because of his support for children’s causes. Boseman supported Disney’s decision to contribute $400 million to good organizations when it was announced. He started his own Operation 42 initiative to persuade others to give PPE in April 2020 after donating $4.2 million in personal protective equipment to hospitals battling the COVID-19 outbreak in black communities.

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