Danai Gurira played one of the many powerful heroines in Black Panther, and is equally fighting for women's rights in real life. The actress shared a powerful anecdote about meeting women in Liberia who had inspired her and who had survived violence, at a United Nations panel for International Women's Day in New York City on Thursday.
Gurira joined a panel with actress Reese Witherspoon and executive director of UN Women Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. She shared her experience meeting women in Liberia and their role in ending the Second Liberian Civil War, and how it inspired her play Eclipsed. She also shared what it was like meeting women in Liberia, who had gone through things she “couldn’t even begin to imagine” and how they all wanted "to be heard."
“She could be the next Oprah or the next Michelle. But If we don’t get up and do something practical in our various positions of power, she might not reach her greatness and potential.” ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ My talk with the @UNWomen today w/ Phumzile Mlambo (Executive Director) & @ReeseWitherspoon is live now. Link in the bio. #InternationalWomensDay #IWD2018 #TimeIsNow
"Everything I write is about trying to give voice to those who have been denied a platform to just be heard and be seen in their full humanity," she said as captured by NowThis. She later added, "In Liberia, when I sat in the presence of women and girls who had gone through things that I couldn't even begin to imagine, and they sat down with me and wanted to share their stories, they would tell me – firstly, there was never anyone who wasn't willing to be heard, they all wanted to be heard. And secondly, they all, almost entirely, in fact, said to me no one had ever asked…"
Gurira also shared the importance of using her position of power to "do something practical" to help women and girls reach their "greatness" and "potential."
As for Black Panther, the actress shared one of the reasons why she believes Wakanda resonated with fans.
“.It brought a world that, go figure, women and men work shoulder to shoulder and their abilities are equally valued in a society,” she said. “And that I think it brought so much responses and attention because it is astounding that we’re not there yet, but we’re not.”
This isn't the first time the actress has used her position of power to influence positive change for women. On International Women's Day 2016, Gurira, joined by other celebrities on Capitol Hill, pushed lawmakers to make changes to improve the gender wage gap for women of color around the world, among other pressing issues, TIME reported.