‘Black Panther’ Star Chadwick Boseman Tapped To Play The First Black Samurai

Isheka N. Harrison
Written by Isheka N. Harrison
Black Samurai
Chadwick Boseman arrives at the Oscars on Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles. (Photo by Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP)

Actor Chadwick Boseman is known for his incredible gift of bringing iconic characters to life on the big screen. Now the actor has added the role of Yasuke, the first African samurai in Japanese history, to his wheelhouse, Deadline reported.

Widely known for his epic role as King T’challa aka ‘Black Panther’ in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Boseman has also flawlessly portrayed prominent historical figures like Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall and James Brown.

Boseman said he is honored to include someone as important as Yasuke on that list.

“The legend of Yasuke is one of history’s best kept secrets, the only person of non-Asian origin to become a Samurai … That’s not just an action movie, that’s a cultural event, an exchange, and I am excited to be part of it,” Boseman told Deadline.

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According to HuffPost, a biography written by Thomas Lockley and Geoffrey Girard entitled “African Samurai: The True Story of Yasuke, a Legendary Black Warrior in Feudal Japan” tells Yasuke’s story.

The book states Yasuke was originally taken by slavers from his village near the Nile and sent to India to serve the Portuguese. In 1579, he was taken to Japan as a slave to Jesuit missionaries, who gave him to the warlord Oda Nobunaga. According to Deadline, “a complex relationship developed between the two men as Yasuke earned Nobunaga’s friendship, respect — and ultimately, the honor, swords and title of samurai.”

The role will likely increase Boseman’s appeal even more with Asian audiences as he was named the most popular actor in China in 2017.

There have been other non-Asian Samurais since Yasuke, reported HuffPost. However, Yasuke was the first known Black man to set foot on Japanese soil and achieve the honor of Samurai, Black Film reported.