Viola Davis, Lupita Nyong’o to Play Mother and Daughter in TriStar Pictures’ ‘The Woman King’

If you loved the badass Dora Milaje in Marvel’s “Black Panther,” we’ve got good news: two Oscar winners are pairing up to tell the story of the real life Amazons. Viola Davis (“How to Get Away With Murder”) and Lupita Nyong’o (“Black Panther”) are set to play mother and daughter warriors battling those who would dare to attack them in “The Woman King,” according to THR. TriStar Pictures has already picked up the worldwide rights to the project.

The film, based on an original idea from Maria Bello, is inspired by the N’Nonmiton (“our mothers”) aka the “Amazons of Dahomey” or “Black Sparta,” the all-female fighting force of one of the most powerful West African kingdoms of the 18th and 19th centuries. (Think the Dora Milaje in real life: according to French soldiers, the N’Nonmiton were braver and more effective in battle than the male soldiers who dared to fight them.) “The Woman King” follows Nanisca (Davis), the general of the Amazons, and her daughter Nawi (Nyong’o), who fought the invading French and neighboring tribes who violated their honor, enslaved the people of Dahomey and tried to destroy everything they lived for. In real life, Nawi was the last living warrior in historical record, passing away at the age of 100 in 1979.

Bello will produce via her Jack Blue Productions alongside Cathy Schulman via her Welle Entertainment and Davis and husband Julius Tennon’s JuVee Production. TriStar president Hannah Minghella and Nicole Brown will oversee for the studio. Minghella said that the film is “the powerful true story of an extraordinary mother-daughter relationship…there’s no one more extraordinary than Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o to bring them to life.” According to EW, Schulman compared “The Woman King” to “Black Panther,” saying:

Black Panther just showed us how the power of imagination and lore could reveal a world without gender and racial stereotypes. The Woman King will tell one of history’s greatest forgotten stories from the real world in which we live, where an army of African warrior women staved off slavery, colonialism, and inter-tribal warfare to unify a nation.

Davis and Nyong’o are perfect casting choices for the upcoming film, both best known for their portrayals of powerful black women. Davis helms ABC’s “How To Get Away With Murder” as defense lawyer Annalise Keating, while Nyong’o is currently starring in “Black Panther” as Nakia, the badass War Dog warrior and romantic partner to King T’Challa. With the pair set to star, “The Woman King” will be a brilliant portrayal of black female excellence.

Davis is repped by CAA, Lasher Group and Litcher Grossman. Nyong’o is repped by Del Shaw and CAA. Bello is repped by UTA and John Carrabino Management.

Excited to see Viola Davis and Lupita Nyong’o as mother and daughter in “The Woman King”? Let us know in the comments below!


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Written by Selina Mixner

Selina is a queer, half-Filipina fangirl who loves TV, film and corgis a little too much. She graduated with a Bachelor's in Literature and Psychology from UC Santa Cruz. Her rules for writing are simple: is it tattoo-worthy? If not, try again.

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