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Throne Into It

August 9, 2022 by  
Filed under Feature

In “The Woman King,” Viola Davis stars as the leader of a legendary all-female African military powerhouse

Viola Davis and John Boyega star in The Woman King.

Women have always been at the forefront of human advancement. That is one of the reasons that the new attacks on women’s rights are so infuriating — and why they have stirred a warrior spirit in women everywhere. 

It is in that atmosphere that “The Woman King,” a new film starring Viola Davis, is being released. Based on real events that occurred in the West African Kingdom of Dahomey during the late 1800s, it follows a fierce, all-female military regiment known as the Agojie — who have to fight for the lives of their people and freedom of their kingdom when faced with outside aggressors. 

Davis stars as General Nanisca, leading her army into battle to defend Dahomey, and Thuso Mbedu as her young prodigy. How did these women rise to the military elite? Because of the high mortality rate of men within the kingdom, due to constant warring with other West African states and the slave trade, women were recruited into the military, eventually taking it over entirely. 

These women were given the name “Dahomey Amazons” by historians because of their similarity to the Amazons of mythology.They have been referenced in pop culture before — most recently in “Black Panther,” with the all-female regiment of guards and bodyguards known as the Dora Milaje based on the Dahomey Amazons of Africa. 

According to Davis, “I knew what it would mean to us as Black people to be in and produce ‘The Woman King.’ Something that has never been done before. And what it would mean for Black women sitting in that movie theater. The responsibility is really high.”

Nanisca (Viola Davis) in TriStar Pictures’ THE WOMAN KING.
Nanisca (Viola Davis) in TriStar Pictures’ THE WOMAN KING.

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