The Black Panther movie is expected to generate about $200 million this weekend. Aside from the projected monetary success, the critically-acclaimed reviews will put this film in a category of its own. Black Panther is not just another superhero movie. It's a cultural milestone; a movement. Needless to say, I can't help but think about the possibility of this movie not happening.
What if Ryan Coogler--the writer and director of Black Panther--would've quit halfway? Then we wouldn't have had the privilege of experiencing this moment in history. A moment that has unified a group of people with something (seemingly) as simple as attire. What if Coogler would've said it was too much or deemed the production unworthy? Then we wouldn't have had this example of a success story. The success story of a rising director and screenwriter in a well-established town called Hollywood.
I'm sure the process of pitching to Marvel and everyone involved in the production was challenging, but the vision was brought to life. The vision was brought to life. After watching the final product, I was more inspired than ever to see the vision through in my personal life and writing career. In fact, Black Panther gifted me with a few lessons that I believe will aid me in my creative endeavors:
1. Black Panther Taught Me That Representation Matters
While I get inspiration from many authors, writers, and creators alike, there's an extra bit of oomph that I get when seeing people who look like me succeed. I can't explain it...and I couldn't explain it yesterday after I left the theater. I just know how I felt after seeing a cast filled with people of color, written by a man of color. I felt like my writings also have the potential to reach the masses. It's not that I didn't feel this way before watching Black Panther, I was just reassured. As a Black woman, it's hopeful to know that the biggest movie in America (and other parts of the world) right now is written and directed by another Black person. It makes me feel like what I have to say matters. It makes me feel like I matter.
2. Black Panther Taught Me That Creativity Is Not Dead
The movie is based on the Marvel Comics character, Black Panther. Now, I'm not a comic book reader, but I'm pretty sure Coogler and his team added some new touches to make the story their own. There was a level of fresh swag that I bet was not included in the older comic book story. I could be wrong. The point is, Ryan Coolger worked with what already existed and built his creativity upon that. The path was already created, and he acknowledged that. Coogler simply created a path within a path. We know there's nothing new under the sun, but a person's creative approach to something that already exists can make it "new" to someone else.
3. Black Panther Taught Me That There Is Power in the Finish
The finish...the finish...the finish! The power comes when you've completed the assignment.
I bring this up because it's very important to me, as a creative, to understand the benefits of finishing a project. I'm learning that you don't always know the impact that your work will have on someone else. That's why the end goal is important to keep in mind when you're going through the challenges of completing a project (e.g. movie, book, business). I don't know if Coogler knew that this film would be so grand, but it is. It's big! And I believe it's big because it's not about him. It's about what he did for the culture. He served his audience, therefore, we're serving him with our reviews, with our excitement, and with our monies. Yes, I said "monies."
This may be new news to some, but on January 19th of this year, I challenged myself to write the second volume of my Look Better In Writing (grammar) book series...in 30 days! Well, today is Day 30 and I'm tired. I'm tired of thinking that I need more time to make my work perfect. I'm tired of writing. I'm over it! I don't feel like I have enough to offer.
But you know what else Black Panther taught me?
It taught me that I have just what I need in order to serve my audience. At the end of the day, it's not about perfection, it's about progress and servitude. Who are you serving? If you're trying to be perfect, then you're going to be trying for a long time. There will always be someone who's not completely satisfied with what you're doing. There are people on social media expressing their faults with Black Panther as we speak. And that's okay! It is/was not for them.
That being said, I'm going to finish editing my new book because I'm inspired to write. I'm committed to my goal, and I'm committed to the people that I'm writing for. That's my encouragement to you guys.
Know that there is someone out there looking up to you.
Know that there is someone out there counting on you.
Know that there is someone out there who wants YOU to be the first, so they can have a point of reference and know that it's possible for them.
Cheers to persistence, diligence, and execution. As a matter of fact, cheers to excellence!