Viola Davis is The Reigning Woman King

The Woman King is Black Excellence! The cast deserves their flowers in this career defining movie for Viola Davis. From the peak physique of the ensemble cast to the strength and presence of dark skinned actors showcased in this film, director Gina Prince-Bythewood (writer of Love & Basketball), alongside producer and lead actress, Viola Davis (Widows and How to Get Away with Murder) have brought the story of The Woman King to life on the big screen.

Viola Davis is The Reigning Woman King
The Agojie Warriors – The Woman King. Photo courtesy of TIFF

The Woman King tells the story of the Agojie, an all female troop of warriors who fought for the kingdom of Dahomey. The Agojie serve under the rule of King Ghezo, played by British actor John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and are revered transcontinentally for their skills in battle. Filmed in South Africa, the story takes place during the 19th century in the West African kingdom of Dahomey; General Nanisca (Davis) recruits and trains the next generation of Agojie warriors. General Nanisca (Davis) is a well respected member of the King’s retinue; this protagonist is seen as the backbone of the Agojie and the power behind King Ghezo (Boyega). The Agojie embody strength, beauty and perseverance in this harrowing story of navigating life during a time marred by slavery.

Viola Davis is The Reigning Woman King
Agojie Warriors – The Woman King. Photo courtesy of TIFF

Audiences will be charmed by this ensemble cast including: daring and boisterous new recruit, Nawi (played by Thuso Mbedu of Amazon’s the Underground Railroad), who we see throughout her journey with the Dahomey army; fiercely brave and comical, Izogie (played by Lashana Lynch of Captain Marvel and 007: No Time to Die) who offers endless equips, while demonstrating unmatched vigor; and kind and valiant Amenza (played by Sheila Atim of Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Amazon’s The Underground Railroad) who is always ready with sage advice or ready for a battle. The Agojie find themselves in a rivalry with an enemy of the Dahomey kingdom, the Oyo empire. The Oyo work alongside Transatlantic slave traders, imprisoning and selling African citizens in the slave trade. This enthralling plotline is filled with twists, secrets, romance and revenge.

The plot of The Woman King is loosely based on the real life story of the all female Agojie army from West Africa, in the region known as modern day Benin. The Dahomey kingdom was seen as one of the most powerful of the time and the Agojie were seen as a major source of that power; their nation thrived from the 17th to 19th century.

Viola Davis is The Reigning Woman King
Viola Davis – The Woman King. Photo courtesy of TIFF

This film sees Atim, Boyega, Davis, Lynch and Mbedu amplify the black voice through hilarious banter, emotive monologues and suspenseful fight sequences. The dialects and vernacular bring authenticity to this film, leaving audiences vulnerable to the raw emotions displayed throughout the movie. This film is rooted in themes of blackness and still manages to appeal to everyone.

The Woman King premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). TIFF brings a slew of notable celebrities and must-see films to Toronto every September. This year was a return to an in-person experience and events took place across the downtown core. Take in this captivating experience at your local theatre or drive-in. The Woman King is in theatres now!

About Michelle Ormsby 31 Articles
Michelle is a Toronto-based social justice advocate. With a background in Broadcast Journalism, Michelle is a freelance artist, writer and metaphysical healer. As a self-described wanderer, she enjoys sharing unique Arts, Black Culture and Civic experiences with Torontonians and can be reached via her socials: IG @CtrlxJoy or LinkedIn (Michelle Ormsby).