‘Black Panther’ star Danai Gurira in powerful UN speech

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BLACK Panther” star Danai Gurira says the hit movie is showing the world that women and men “can work shoulder to shoulder” and their abilities “are equally valued in a society.”

Gurira spoke at an event marking International Women’s Day on Thursday at U.N. headquarters in New York.

She says the movie has made “a massive splash” because such a representation of powerful women is rarely seen.

The Zimbabwean-American actress and Tony Award-winning playwright says she was thankful to be handed the role of Okoye, who had nobility and put the needs of her country and people first.

She says she wants Okoye to remind the world “that those women already exist.”

Gurira, 40, shared a tearful and powerful anecdote of her time meeting women in Liberia who had experienced sexual abuse and harassment.

“When I’ve sat in the presence of women and girls that have gone through things that I couldn’t even begin to imagine, all of them said to me no one had ever asked what had happened to them. That really got to me,” Gurira said.

“At the time I was an extremely broke playwright who had a fundraising party and a friend said he’d match whatever I made, and I was able to pay my New York rent and go.”

She continued, “But now I’m in a different position, so now I have to go again, and I have to meet those girls face to face. So it’s about that circle closing because those girls have the potential, desire and resilience. If we don’t get up and do something practical in our various positions of power, she will not reach her greatness and her potential.”