Chadwick Boseman Embodied Joy On and Off-Screen

by Serina Gousby

Photo from Vanity Fair on YouTube

Without a doubt, when we think of Chadwick Boseman, his signature laugh, wide smile, and strong ambition comes to mind. Portraying a superhero, the first Black Supreme Court Justice, the Godfather of Soul, and the first African-American to break the color barrier in Major League baseball, are not easy roles—yet he carried each of them with such authenticity, grace, and power. We trusted him to tell these stories, almost to the point where we wanted him to be in every biopic. 

The loss of him is hard for me to accept, and I have to prepare to grieve the loss of films we’ll not see him in after August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Although the pain of his passing will continue to linger, I wanted to share a few favorite videos that displayed his joy, love for acting, his talents, and the advice and wisdom he gave that will shape many of us for years to come. I hope you smile during some of these videos, beginning with his portrayal of James Brown.


1. Soul Power Scene from Get On Up (2014)

This was the first movie that introduced me to Chadwick, and it blew me away. From the identical speaking voice to the dance moves, I know it took a lot of work to perfect the image of James Brown. That instantly made me anxious to see more of Chadwick’s work.


2. Chadwick’s Howard University 2018 Commencement Speech

I remember going on Howard University’s website to catch the live-stream of the ceremony, and I was so excited to hear him speak. At the time, I just started my first permanent job since graduating from college, and I really needed his words, and still do, on the importance of living for your purpose.


3. Chadwick and Danai Gurira on Vanity Fair’s Fear Box (2018)

This makes me smile everytime I watch it. I think we can all agree that the press tour for Black Panther was an exciting time, just to see the cast participate in games, fun interviews, and share bonding moments off-screen. I could tell how much Chadwick loved being around the cast, and found any chance he got to laugh and smile.


4. T’Challa’s New Black Panther Suit Scene From Marvel’s Black Panther (2018)

The bond between T’Challa and Shuri, played by Letitia Wright, was beautiful to watch, and this particular scene was perfect in the beginning sections of Black Panther. “What are those?” and “Delete that footage” will forever be imprinted in my mind.


5. Jamie Foxx Talks Black Panther with Chadwick from OFF SCRIPT, a Grey Goose Production (2018)

This conversation between Chadwick and Jamie is so refreshing and hilarious, so I thought I’d share.


6. Chadwick Boseman’s Path to Acting from Off Camera with Sam Jones (2020)

Chadwick was very vocal about his career path, which began with theater and directing. In this particular clip, he shares about one of his first plays he wrote and directed in high school, what he learned at Howard, and how that has helped his path as an actor.


7. Love is a Fallacy (2005/2006)

Before 42, Chadwick was the center of this 2005-6 production of Max Schulman’s Love is a Fallacy. While I was researching more of his work two years ago, I came across this video, and thoroughly enjoyed it. The way he was able to change accents and style of speech through the years is amazing.


8. Black Jeopardy on Saturday Night Live (2018)

 I didn’t watch SNL for years, but it was refreshing to watch him host in real time. Karen…Potato Salad. There’s not much more I can say but laugh away.


9. Chadwick Surprises Black Panther Fans While They Thank Him (The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2018)

I’m so happy he got his flowers, and it was captured in this way on The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon. I also admired Jimmy for allowing the fans and Chadwick to share that special moment, and not stand in the way of that.


10. God is Love – from Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods (2020)


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A post shared by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

Stormin’ Norman. I have not yet seen the film, and because of his passing, I know that as soon as I do, it’s going to break me. When Spike Lee shared this clip, I instantly felt the genuine love from his voice while his character is singing “God is Love” by Marvin Gaye. Chadwick always talked about God, and how his faith guided him through his battles, and I thought this was the perfect scene to close with.


Such joy and light, and that’s how I choose to remember him. My prayers and condolences go out to his wife, family, loved ones, and all the supporters like me who admire his art. Thank you Chadwick for sharing your gift with the world, and embodying joy in the midst of pain. Rest peacefully; we’ll forever remember you, King.

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