i never said i was a role model

The Woman King’s Stars Speak Out on the Film’s Historical Accuracy

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

Both Viola Davis and John Boyega commented on The Woman King’s historical accuracy this week. Specifically, they said that it doesn’t have much and that history lessons and moral instruction are not necessarily the point of cinema. “If we just told a history lesson, which we very well could have, that would be a documentary,” Davis said in Variety. “Unfortunately, people wouldn’t be in the theaters doing the same thing we saw this weekend.” The film, which topped the box office this past weekend, has come under criticism for downplaying the role the Dahomey kingdom in West Africa played in the transatlantic slave trade. “Most of the story is fictionalized. It has to be,” Davis said, with her husband, The Woman King’s producer, characterizing the film as “edutainment.”

Speaking to BuzzFeed, Boyega emphasized that movies are more a type of moral education than they are a history lesson. Boyega’s character is shown to be involved in the slave trade to an extent that Davis’s is not. “Art can live in a moral or immoral space and could sometimes just be about shining a light on human nature, history, and the reality of that conflict,” he said. “So, for me, including that just shows that there is a way in which we can embrace stories that accept the fact that humanity is not perfect, while also being entertaining and something you can learn from.”

The Woman King’s Stars Speak Out on Historical Accuracy