T&T ‘Panther’ star ‘marked’ to portray Marcus M. Garvey

Actor Duke attends the “Us” premiere at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, New York
Actor Winston Duke attends the “Us” premiere at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City, New York, U.S., March 19, 2019.
REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz, file

Trinidad & Tobago’s twin-islander, Winston Duke is destined for heroic acts. Sooner than later, if Amazon Studios proceeds with plans to cast him in the role of Honorable Marcus Mosiah Garvey, Jamaica’s first national hero.

The studios made an announcement recently that the Tobago-born actor whose fame skyrocketed when he portrayed M’Baku in the Marvel film, “Black Panther,” will portray the Pan-Africanist, Black nationalist, in the film “The Marked Man.”

Commenting on his acquisition of the role, Duke took to Instagram to opine on the opportunity to portray the cultural icon.

“Man, where do I begin. As a Caribbean immigrant, activist and global citizen, one of the most seminal stories in my development has been the words and works of Marcus Garvey. Today I am blessed to announce that I have the opportunity to bring his story to life, along with a kick-ass crew of collaborators. It’s not lost on me how important and meaningful this is, not only for the generations that already know his contribution to the Black liberation landscape but for those who have yet to know and embrace him and what he stood for. Can’t wait to step into this one and bring you all along for the amazing journey.”

On hearing the news, filmmaker Roy Anderson exclaimed “Wonderful!”

The stuntman, actor, director and Garvey documentarian expressed genuine glee without hesitation sounding elated that the Black hero would receive widespread attention and exposure.

The fact his own “Marcus Garvey: The Untold Story” is due later this year, did not factor as rival competition to his effort.

Without major sponsorship or corporate investment Anderson is using his personal finances to tell previously unrevealed information about the revered hero.

He said his larger than life image of Garvey will feature Jamaican national Paul Williams, a newcomer to the industry.

“I wanted someone from Jamaica, in Jamaica and from an authentic Jamaica landscape.”

Narrated by Keith David, the entire production was filmed on Garvey’s birth-island.

Alleged to include previously unreleased materials and interviews the document is a mystery to fans of the filmmaker whose Action4Reel production company delivered “Akwantu: The Journey,” a reenactment of the treacherous trail from Africa to enslavement and the United Nations’ debuted “Queen Nanny: Legendary Maroon Chieftaness” which spotlights the Ghanaian warrior who conquered British colonizers in Jamaica.

Anderson is closed-mouthed about details of his documentary but in interviews often express pride in posturing the legacy of the Black Star advocate.

“It is a labor of love,” he said of his independently -funded project. Prior to the pandemic, Anderson worked full-time as a thespian and in stunt roles in order to fulfill his dream.

COVID-19 enabled an opportunity to review, edit and write new chapters from a private workspace.

However, along with his wife Alison, an IT savvy technician, throughout the lock down and quarantine Anderson gleaned insights on adding to the long-awaited documentary.

It is his belief that the Black Lives Matter protests expanded Garvey’s message therefore he took the opportunity to update the vision of the activist. He donned a surgical mask, packed his trusty cameras and lenses and scoured the boroughs to capture live, action scenes that is sure to enhance Garvey’s message of unity, self-determination and empowerment.

The Jamaican talent is in post-production finalizing music and accreditation to the production.

His hope is that he will correct some of the misconceptions about Garvey and in the process deliver a biopic which no other filmmaker has attempted.

Anderson seemed ecstatic to hear that the Amazon feature has been green-lit.

Like Duke, Anderson’s path from Hollywood followed alongside Chadwick Boseman’s, the “Black Panther” who died last year. While Duke’s association cast him as a nemesis in the Marvel presentation, Anderson was recruited by Spike Lee to stunt double for a character in his “Da Five Bloods,” film which proved to be Boseman’s final.

Both actors lavished the on set experiences each shared with the super-star actor.

Garvey was a political activist who was a key figure of Black nationalism in the 20th century. Born in Jamaica on Aug. 17, 1887 in parish of St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica he was the leader of the Pan-Africanist movement which “sought to unify and connect people of African descent worldwide.”

Garvey was the founder of the Negro World newspaper, the Black Star Line Shipping Company and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA) a fraternal organization of Black nationalists.

Garvey died at the age of 52 in London in 1940 from complications from two strokes.

“The Marked Man” is partly inspired by the Colin Grant biography “Negro With A Hat: The Rise and Fall of Marcus Garvey.”

Garvey purposely advocated a philosophy for the Black race to achieve “One Aim, One God, One Destiny.”

It seems both Anderson and Duke aim to fulfill his will or at least set the record straight.

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