Dorothy Steel, who made her film debut as a tribal leader in Black Panther, has died aged 95. Proving that it’s never too late to pursue a change in career, Steel didn’t start acting until she was 88. She scored the role of the merchant tribal leader despite initially dismissing the MCU as a “comic strip”, though fortunately, her grandson urged her to take the part.
She went on to treasure her time on set, with Chadwick Boseman taking time the time to chat with her each day:
“Chadwick the king. Every day, he would make sure if I was on the set, he would come by and make sure he gave me a big ol’ hug and kiss. We were one big melting pot of Black people and we knew we were doing something that had never been done before.”
She’s reprised the role in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which is currently in production in Atlanta. Before heading to set, Steel confirmed that this would be her final performance. Let’s hope she finished shooting her scenes and will make it into the completed movie next summer.
Other than Black Panther, Steel appeared in TV shows The Trouble with Going Somewhere, The Oval, and in several episodes of Saints & Sinners. Off the back of Black Panther, she also appeared as a Village Elder alongside Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black, and Karen Gillen in Jumanji: The Next Level.
Steel was asked in a 2018 interview why she made a leap of faith into acting and her answer is inspiring:
“Keep your mind open and keep faith in yourself that you can do this thing. All you have to do is step out there and try it. And if you don’t make it on the first step, step out there again and you’ll find something you can step out on. But don’t just sit back. Life is not just about sitting back. Life is about stepping out.”
Keep an eye out for Dorothy Steel in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on July 8th, 2022.