Actor Stories: How Chadwick Boseman Almost Gave Up on Acting Before He Became a Legend 

By Webmaster

  • Actor Stories: 

    How Chadwick Boseman Almost Gave Up on Acting Before He Became a Legend 

    Nothing, not even cancer, can kill a legend

    (by Carmichael Phillips)

    (Chadwick Boseman in Marshall, 2017)

    Age 43 is much too young for a superstar and superhero to leave this world. Yet, in passing, Chadwick Boseman became a real-life hero, and a Hollywood legend.

  • I have long been a fan of Boseman’s work, ever since I saw him carve out his career by giving pinpoint-accurate portrayals of some of history’s most influential African-American icons. Portraying a well-known public figure is often fraught, because it’s a person whom everyone knows and loves.

    Giving a lackluster portrayal of a legend can damage, even ruin, an actor’s career. Yet these biographical portrayals seemed to come naturally for Mr. Boseman. In fact, he was majestic in those roles.

    What I did not know about Chadwick Boseman was just how interesting his acting journey was, how he came from humble beginnings, how he nearly gave up on acting, and how he became a superhero both on and off-screen.

  • Boseman’s humble beginnings

    Chadwick Aaron Boseman began his journey as an actor in stereotypical Small-town, USA. Born in Anderson, South Carolina, Boseman took a liking to acting in grade school. By the time he hit high school, he had already written his first play, Crossroads, after a friend was tragically shot and killed.

    His love for the performing arts followed him all the way to college, in Washington, DC. He earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in directing from Howard University.

    Boseman’s famous boosters

    It was at Howard U. where Boseman would meet one of his famous backers, Phylicia Rashad, best known for her role as Clair Huxtable on the landmark television show, The Cosby Show. Rashad would go on to become a mentor for young Boseman, spurring his budding career along.


    At the end of the day, acting is acting. You can look at it with the glass half full or glass half empty. So, I just choose to look at it with the glass full.

    (Chadwick Boseman)


    Rashad also enlisted another famous actor to help push Boseman’s career forward. When Boseman and his classmates needed funds to attend the Oxford Mid-Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy in London, Rashad sought the help of Denzel Washington, who secretly paid for Boseman and his classmates. Little did Washington know he was financing the career of a future superstar.

  • Boseman almost gives up on acting

    But before Chadwick Boseman became a superstar, he was just a typical, struggling actor seeking to carve out a career in the jungle that is the entertainment business.

    He began his career in New York, directing plays and, eventually, moved to Los Angeles to concentrate more fully on his acting career. He landed small roles on television shows like All My Children and Law & Order.

    But his time grinding in the trenches, as a bit actor, coupled with his interest in directing, led Boseman to contemplate what many struggling actors are forced to consider: life after acting.

    Chadwick Boseman was leaning towards a career as a director and leaning away from the business of acting. Then, he got a break. A big break!

  • Boseman’s big break 

    Director Brian Helgeland was looking for an actor to play baseball legend, Jackie Robinson, in a biographical film called 42, which was Jackie Robinson’s baseball jersey number. Dozens of actors were screened, but in the end, it was Boseman who embodied what Helgeland was looking for.

    But playing Jackie Robinson in his first lead role and making it look easy was not enough for Boseman. He followed up his portrayal of Robinson with a stunning portrayal of singer James Brown (Get on Up, 2014) and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (Marshall, 2017).

    Boseman’s career exploded after that and he never looked back.

  • Boseman becomes a superhero


    (Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther, 2018)

    With a string of biographical film successes under his belt, it would have seemed he had finally found his niche in Hollywood. He would be the go-to actor whenever there was a role to be filled to play one of history’s famous African-American men.

    As it turns out, bio-pics were only a stepping stone for the actor who was fast on his way to international superstardom.

    Marvel Studios had embarked on an ambitious project: producing a superhero film with a cast composed almost entirely of African-Americans, while proudly emphasizing black themes and black traditions. The film was Black Panther.

    Boseman was chosen to play the lead character, T’Challa. The film would go on to gross more than one-billion dollars. And Boseman would become a recognizable face and household name.

  • Boseman becomes a legend

    While Boseman portrayed a superhero on screen, he was quietly a superhero off-screen. Even while filming Black Panther and other projects, like Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods, Boseman was battling stage IV colon cancer.

    Yet, he never complained or sought pity. He never even revealed his condition to the public. He simply soldiered on, fighting for his life while visiting cancer patients and offering them hope. And in doing so, he became a real-life superhero to many as they faced death and struggled through chemotherapy.

    On August 28, 2020, Boseman passed away; his life and acting journey tragically cut short. Yet nothing, not even cancer, can kill off a legend. And Boseman’s legend, indeed, will live on.

    Wakanda forever.


  • You Might Also Like:
    R.I.P. to Chadwick Boseman


     

    Recommended Posts

  • Ad

  • Actor Stories: How Aaron Paul Got His Big Break 

    Actor Stories: How Aaron Paul Got His Big Break  Ten years of darkness before the light finally broke through (by Carmichael Phillips) (Aaron Paul in El Camino) Jesse Pinkman is not his actual…

    The Mirror is Not Your Friend

    The Mirror is Not Your Friend Why you should never rehearse in front of your mirror (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Phinehas Adams/Unsplash) Do you rehearse your lines in front of a mirror? Do…

    5 Essential Budgeting Tips for Actors

    5 Essential Budgeting Tips for Actors Budgeting is a crucial skill in the actor’s life (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Michael Longmire/Unsplash) All you need to do is look at your last W2, the…

    Actor Stories: How Chadwick Boseman Almost Gave Up on Acting Before He Became a Legend 

    Actor Stories:  How Chadwick Boseman Almost Gave Up on Acting Before He Became a Legend  Nothing, not even cancer, can kill a legend (by Carmichael Phillips) (Chadwick Boseman in Marshall, 2017) Age 43…

    RIP to Chadwick Boseman

    RIP to Chadwick Boseman A fantastic actor, taken much too soon (by Carmichael Phillips) (Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther) The world continues to mourn the loss of Chadwick Boseman, the talented young actor…

  • Ad

  • The Most Important Element When Choosing a Monologue

    The Most Important Element When Choosing a Monologue How to choose a monologue that fits you like a glove (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Monica Silvestre/Unsplash) It’s important to choose a monologue that makes…

    Bryan Cranston: “I knew I wanted to become an actor. I’m not going to have a fallback plan.”

    Bryan Cranston: “I knew I wanted to become an actor. I’m not going to have a fallback plan.” (Arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Bryan Cranston in Breaking Bad) “I knew I wanted to become…

    Viola Davis: “Pay Me What I’m Worth” 

    Viola Davis: “Pay Me What I’m Worth”  (arranged by AM Staff) (Viola Davis) “Pay Me What I’m Worth!” “What they (Caucasian women) are getting paid, which is half of what a man is…

  • Ad

  • 4 Things Actors Should Be Grateful for Despite the Pandemic 

    4 Things Actors Should Be Grateful for Despite the Pandemic  Take a brief moment to be grateful for the things you have (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Gabrielle Henderson/Unsplash) Did you lose out on…

    There is Power in Your Eyelids

    There is Power in Your Eyelids  How using your eyelids can captivate an audience (by Javier Guerra) (Photo: Craig Adderley/Unsplash) One of the first rules-of-thumb when it comes to on-camera acting technique is…

    SAG-AFTRA eligible

    What does “SAG-AFTRA eligible” mean?  Some basic info about being SAG-AFTRA eligible (by Jim Webb)  (Photo: Jon Tyson/Unsplash) The union formerly known as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) represents performers in various areas…

    Talent Agent vs Talent Manager: What is the Difference? 

    Talent Agent vs Talent Manager: What is the Difference?  The lines are sometimes blurred, but both have distinct roles in the industry  (by Tonya Tannenbaum)  (Photo: christina@wocintechchat.com/Unsplash) There’s always confusion when it comes…

    Jessica Chastain: Be a script detective

    Jessica Chastain: Be a script detective Jessica Chastain speaks about the importance of script analysis (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Jessica Chastain in Miss Sloane, 2016) Every playwright or screenwriter has a very serious problem…

  • Ad

  • 5 Ways the Actor’s Life Might Change After the Coronavirus 

    5 Ways the Actor’s Life Might Change After the Coronavirus  It’s a whole new world out there, actors!  (by Tonya Tannenbaum)  (Photo: United Nations/Unsplash) Buckle your safety belts, actors. Life as you used…

    Should an Actor Ever Work for Free? 

    Should an Actor Ever Work for Free?  Just make sure it’s part of your plan  (by Tonya Tannenbaum)  (Photo: Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash) Should an actor ever work for free? Should you ever work for…

    A Farewell to Carl Reiner 

    A Farewell to Carl Reiner  Reiner became a force in Hollywood, thanks to his acting skills, jokes and creative ingenuity (by AM Staff)  (Carl Reiner in Ocean’s Eleven) We would like to bid…

  • Ad

  • 5 Basic Facts About Uta Hagen

    5 Basic Facts About Uta Hagen  “If you want a bourgeois existence, you shouldn’t be an actor” (by Tonya Tannenbaum) Uta Hagen was an American who rose to prominence, first as a successful…

    Memory vs. Imagination: Which Approach Works Best?

    Memory vs. Imagination: Which Approach Works Best? Actors have many different devices for achieving magic (by Tonya Tannenbaum) (Photo: Ben Sweet/Unsplash) How should an actor work-up the emotions needed to perform a scene…

    Kate Winslet’s Advice to Actors

    Kate Winslet’s Advice to Actors  Winslet’s main advice to actors: keep going!  (by Jim Webb) (Kate Winslet in The Reader) Kate Winslet is an English actress who first found fame when she was…

    5 Basic Facts About Tom Hanks 

    5 Basic Facts About Tom Hanks  From Forrest Gump to Mr. Rogers; memorable performance after memorable performance. (by Jim Webb) (Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies) Tom Hanks is an extraordinarily versatile actor. …

    Dennis Haysbert: “I think the word ‘acting’ is a bad word for what we do.”

    Dennis Haysbert:  “I think the word ‘acting’ is a bad word for what we do.” (arranged by AM Staff) Do you consider acting to be the art of performing a character or the…

  • Ad

  • 5 Basic Facts About Viola Davis 

    5 Basic Facts About Viola Davis  Davis is the first black actor to achieve the Triple Crown in Acting (by Jim Webb)  (Viola Davis in How to Get Away with Murder) Viola Davis…

    7 Self-Tape Instructions Actors Often Ignore

    7 Self-Tape Instructions Actors Often Ignore Treat your self-tape like you’re baking a cake. Follow ALL directions and you’ll get a sweet result. (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Luis Quintero/Pexels) Self-taping was already the…

    5 Facts About Denzel Washington

    5 Facts About Denzel Washington The greatest African American male actor in the history of American cinema? (by Jim Webb) (Denzel Washington in Man on Fire) Is Denzel Washington the greatest African American…

  • Ad

  • What is the “Pick-an-Eye Technique”?

    What is the Pick-an-Eye Technique? An unofficial name for a brilliant acting technique (by Jim Webb) You probably already know who Michael Caine is from all his many roles in films like The…

    3 Misdemeanors to Avoid on Your Acting Résumé

    3 Misdemeanors to Avoid on Your Acting Résumé Misdemeanors aren’t felonious, but they can still be problematic (by Jim Webb) (Photo: Niu Niu/Unsplash) When it comes to an actor’s résumé, there are differing…

    5 Basic Facts About Robert De Niro

    5 Basic Facts About Robert De Niro One of the most storied careers the entertainment industry has ever seen (by Jim Webb) His legendary roles, in various iconic films, have established Robert De…

    Netflix and Quarantine…and Watch Some Great Acting!

    Netflix and Quarantine…and Watch Some Great Acting! You can see lots of great, original movies, featuring some stellar acting performances, on Netflix (by Carmichael Phillips) (Photo: Freestocks/Unsplash) So, this Coronavirus pandemic has you…

    7 Basic Facts About Meryl Streep

    7 Basic Facts About Meryl Streep Here are 7 basic facts about the “greatest actress of her generation”: Meryl Streep (by Jim Webb) (Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada) Meryl Streep is…

    Actor Stories: Geoffrey Owens’ Rise and Fall…and Rise Again!

    Actor Stories: Geoffrey Owens’ Rise and Fall…and Rise Again! Owens’ newfound fame has given his career a renaissance (by Jim Webb) (Geoffrey Owens) “I’m Geoffrey Owens and I am an actor!” That was…

    Actors Who Have Tested Positive for the Coronavirus

    Actors Who Have Tested Positive for the Coronavirus The acting community has not been spared from the destruction (by Jim Webb) Covid-19 is ravaging our public health system and the global economy. It…

    Actor Stories: Molly Shannon’s 10-Year-Struggle to Beat the Odds in Hollywood

    Actor Stories: Molly Shannon’s 10-Year-Struggle to Beat the Odds in Hollywood How many years are you willing to dedicate to your dream of becoming a professional, working actor? (Arranged by Carmichael Phillips) (Molly…

    Load More