I was hooked the first saw time I saw Michael B. Jordan on screen, in 2013’s Fruitvale Station. His portrayal of Oscar Grant, a young man killed by a police officer at the Fruitvale district station in Oakland, California, in 2009, shook me to my core. Not only that, I finally had a young black actor to follow at a time when there were a serious lack of them on the big screen. A year later, Jordan exposed his softer, funnier side in That Awkward Moment. I was officially in love.
I’ve been a die-hard member of the Michael “Bae” Jordan tribe ever since. His starring role in 2015's Creed was merely icing on a delectable cake.
Then came Black Panther, the first Marvel superhero movie to feature a black hero and a predominantly black cast. Jordan plays Erik Killmonger, and I was eager to swoon over his dreadlocked villain, the warrior who attempts to take down Wakandan king T’Challa, aka the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). As expected, Jordan is great. What I didn't expect was that I would be cheating on him. And I'm not alone: Winston Duke is Black Panther's breakout star.
Duke plays M’Baku, the bad-but-good leader of Wakanda’s Jabari tribe. The character—strong, proud and overflowing with honor—challenges T’Challa for the throne. Yet even after he’s defeated, he comes to Black Panther's aid. In the actor's hands, M'Baku is strong, proud and overflowing with honor. What got me, though, was his humor. Effortlessly charming, Duke steals every scene he's in.
Since Black Panther hit theaters, Duke love has flooded social media,
Here’s everything you need to know about Hollywood’s—and your—new “bae.”
He’s From Trinidad and Tobago
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Duke spoke about his childhood on the beaches of Tobago, and about his family moving to Brooklyn when he was “9 or 10” so that his sister could pursue her dreams of becoming a doctor. “[My mother] sold everything she had. She sold her restaurant and home, and everything she owned,” he said. “She’s a very supportive parent.”
He got up to 250 pounds to play M’Baku, because he wanted the character to feel "energetically heavy.”
He Attended Yale School of Drama
Duke was one year below Lupita Nyong’o, his Black Panther co-star (she plays Nakia). Nyong’o gave him his first tour of the campus, and the pals also saw the first Avengers movie together. Now, they’re both part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
He Watched Bollywood Films as a Child
Duke told EW that Bollywood films were “a big staple of the culture” in Tobago. “We lived in this multicultural society where, I think, 40 percent of our country is from India, East India,” he said. “I grew up watching these big song-and-dance films, and action-packed movies. I’m doing these karate moves and diving over things, doing my own stunts as a 6, 7, 8-year-old kid.”
You’ve May Have Seen Him on TV
Although he’s new to film, Duke has appeared on TV multiple times—in crime dramas like Law & Order: Special Victims Unit and Person of Interest and on a few episodes of Modern Family, playing Dwight, a football player on Cam’s (Eric Stonestreet) high school team.
You’ll Definitely See Him on the Big Screen Again
Duke will reprise his role as M’Baku in Avengers: Infinity War. But after Black Panther, expect to see him playing a lot more than superheroes.
As for Michael B. Jordan: I haven't jumped ship, there's just two passengers now.
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