More Than Just Another Marvel Film, Actress Sydelle Noel, Talks to Me About Black Panther
Black Panther debuted Friday, February 16th and was highly anticipated as many of us were fascinated with seeing a mainly Black cast, a rarity in Hollywood, lead by Black Director, Ryan Coogler, another rarity in Hollywood. It is no secret that despite widespread racial inequality, America is nonetheless enamored by Black culture. And for that reason, I knew that Black Panther would smash box office records. Families, organizations, schools and churches were buying tickets by the dozens, requesting private screenings and even renting out entire theaters. I think we felt a sense of pride that could only be compared to how we felt when Barack Obama was first elected in 2008. Okay, well maybe I went too far with that analogy, but according to deadline.com, Black Panther “recorded the second best Sunday ever” with “$60.1 Million ranking only behind the all-time record held by Disney/Lucasfilm’s Star Wars: The Force Awakens with $60.5 Million on December 20, 2015. Black Panther [actually] closed out with a three-day total of $201.8 Million, [making it] the fifth-best domestic opening of all time after 2012’s Avengers with $207.4 Million.”
What does this all mean to us? I got a chance to chat with Black Panther Actress Sydelle Noel for a few minutes to get her perspective on the film and its impact beyond box office figures.
Crystal Chanel: As a fellow Hallandale High School Charger, I would like to know more about your journey from Hallandale to Hollywood?
Sydelle Noel: I was born and raised on Fletcher Street. [We both laughed.] Thankfully, we moved, but ironically, I was bused back to Hallandale High School as a magnet student. In school, I was popular - voted most athletic - involved in volleyball, basketball, cheerleading and even track. In fact, I attended college on a track & field scholarship before deciding that I had an interest in acting.
Crystal Chanel: Black Panther is not your first rodeo. How did you break into the industry?
Sydelle Noel: I connected with some key people including Assistant Director Knoko Chapple. I was able to appear in a few music videos and commercials, but interning at a casting agency really prepared me for auditions. Working behind the scenes helped me to understand the mindset of producers. They are usually looking for a specific look when casting. This understanding helped me to not be nervous when auditioning.
Crystal Chanel: Thankfully, you had the look to land a role in Marvel’s Black Panther. What do you want movie goers to get from this film?
Sydelle Noel: It’s more than just a marvel film. It’s about doing something that has never been done before - It’s an all Black cast - It’s Black action heros - It’s strong Black women. It’s unity.
Crystal Chanel: Speaking of unity - what was it like on set?
Sydelle Noel: It was an unspeakable energy at times. Everyone knew the importance of this film. It was dynamic. Sometimes we would break out into songs and into prayers. You could feel the energy.
Crystal Chanel: So there was energy on set. Did music play a role in this? I know Black folks are typically music lovers.
Sydelle Noel: Funny, you should ask. There was a drummer on set who would play the drums frequently especially during stunt training. The drums set the atmosphere, and brought everyone together.
Crystal Chanel: So, what’s next for you Sydelle?
Sydelle Noel: I am interested in more action roles. Truly, I would like to be an action hero. Honestly, who is our Black female action hero? We don’t have enough representation. I would like to be apart of that change.
Please follow Sydelle Noel on IG @Sydellio and Facebook/Twitter @Sydelle Noel.
And let’s keep Sydelle’s dreams in our thoughts and prayers as Black Panther brought the nation together. In particular, it brought Black people together. It was a much needed relief from the perils of racism and prolific injustices that our community still faces today. Across the country, we felt a sense of pride. Check out #BlackPantherSoLit and get lost #InWakanda on Twitter.
As one of the Founders of The South Florida Black Business Directory, I took 83 people to see Black Panther opening night. Surrounding by my skinfolk, dressed in traditional garb, submerged in Wakanda, I felt the energy that Sydelle spoke of. We tried to describe it afterwards at Panther After Dark, dinner and a movie discussion at Gigi’s Music Cafe, but topics like what happens to our abandoned sons, the role of women in the kingdom, and the importance of spirituality over religion requires more than a discussion but a collective movement towards change. However, everything starts with a conversation and I hope that we all see Marvel’s Black Panther as a catalyst to provoke social and economic change in Hollywood, at home locally and even aboard.
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