Viola Davis is history’s “most exceptional” warrior in The Woman King trailer

Davis stars as Nanisca, leader of the real-life Agojie warriors, in Gina Prince-Bythewood's new film

Viola Davis has given us many flavors of badass in her performances over the years, but the version presented in The Woman King might be the most delicious yet. Davis stars as Nanisca, leader of an elite and deadly group of female warriors known as the Agojie (or the “Dahomey Amazons”).

In the new trailer, Nanisca prepares her fighters to face invading European colonizers, despite the doubts of her king (John Boyega). Her army includes her right-hand woman played by Lashana Lynch and a new recruit, Nawi, played by Thuso Mbedu. “To be a warrior, you must kill your tears,” Nanisca counsels Nawi in the trailer.

If the new footage gives you Dora Milaje vibes, that’s because those fictional warriors were reportedly inspired by the real-life Agojie. Lupita Nyong’o previously starred in a documentary about the army, Warrior Women, after her interest was piqued on the Black Panther set.

In a recent interview with Vanity Fair, Davis said her preparation for The Woman King included “Weight training, sprinting, martial arts and weaponry training for the machete” for months before shooting began.

“I’ve never had a role like this before,” the actor reflects. “It’s transformative. And to be a producer on it, and to know that I had a hand in bringing it to fruition… There’s always a vision you have for your career, but there are very few roles as an actress of color. Dark skin with a wide nose and big lips. I’m just gonna continue to say it. Those stories are extraordinarily limited.”

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood acknowledges that difficulty in getting The Woman King made: “It takes so long to get to a greenlight, especially to tell a story like this. There are so many hurdles—and the finish line keeps getting moved. I just kept picturing the first time I would be on set, and say ‘action,’ and look around and be surrounded by us. I held that thought with me until it happened.”

Thankfully for all of us, that moment finally came–and now the fruits of their labor are being shared with the world. The Woman King premieres in theaters September 16, 2022.


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