By Ryan Velez
In any career path, we need mentorship and support from those before us. In many cases, it’s difficult for Black people to have this because there aren’t that many people in the position to help. Madame Noire reports that in the midst of the Black Panther-fever going around, Rolling Stone recently revealed a story of how Chadwick Boseman got help while learning the craft of acting at some of the top schools in the world.
In college, Boseman was studying at Howard University and working at an African-themed bookstore during his time at the school. His mentor was Phylicia Rashad, a Howard alumnus as well. “She would do a play in D.C. and you’d go see it, and she’d drive you home and talk to you,” he recounted in his cover story interview with Rolling Stone. “‘How you eating? You look too skinny. You need a pork chop.’ We were just trying to aspire to her excellence.”
Rashad shared that she knew Boseman had what it took to become a success. “Chad was this lanky young man with big eyes and an endearing smile and a very gentle way,” she said. “What I saw in him was the sky was the limit. He never asked me to introduce him to anyone – that’s not his way. He was going to make it on his own merits.” When the chance came for Boseman to study at Oxford, she lobbied for him. “She pushed for us,” Boseman said of Rashad’s enthusiasm over the opportunity. “She essentially got some celebrity friends to pay for us to go.” Initially, in the interview, Boseman refused to reveal who actually paid for his trip, but would later share that it was Denzel Washington.
“I’m sure he has no idea,” Boseman said. “It was random.” And while he couldn’t wait to write his thank-you letter to the legendary actor back then, he surprisingly still hasn’t met Washington to say thank you in person. “I’ve been waiting to meet him, so I can tell him.” He also explained why he decided to stay quiet at first.
“You never want to make someone feel like they owe you something else,” he said. “They’ve already given you whatever it is they were supposed to give you. But I realized this morning that I’ve gotten to a point where nobody would think that. I don’t need any more help.”