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Chadwick Boseman's Howard Curriculum Included Studying Under Acting Giants

Chadwick Boseman was truly a gifted individual, but one well-established talent seemed to spot this early on and took a massive chance on the actor. Best known by audiences as the noble king T'Challa, aka Black Panther, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Boseman  proved himself as an immense talent in such films as "Black Panther," "42," "Get on Up," and "Da 5 Bloods," and he became a larger-than-life cultural hero that the world needed. This only made the actor's passing in August 2020 at the age of 43 (via The New York Times) all the more heartbreaking and cruel. With his death, the world not only mourned the actor, but celebrated his rich and impactful life. This included several posthumous accolades, including an Oscar nomination for best actor for his final film role in "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom," and an Emmy win for his voice over performance in the animated Marvel Disney + series, "What If?" 

With the great success and clear talent that Boseman was able to display throughout his life, it's hard to imagine that the actor ever had a hard time breaking into the industry. However, as with every rise to the top, one has to start at the bottom. But Boseman would be blessed to have notable names on his side to guide him along his journey.

Boseman's mentors were pioneering figures in black entertainment

Before becoming the king of Wakanda, Chadwick Boseman was a student at Howard University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Directing in 2000. Boseman initially planned to be a director, saying, per The Washington Post, "I really only started acting because I wanted to know what the actors were doing, how to communicate with the actors. And then I realized I'm supposed to do all of it." He would learn from prominent Black names at the time, including Al Freeman Jr. ("Malcolm X," "Roots: The Next Generation") and Phylicia Rashad ("The Cosby Show," "Creed"). Rashad became a meaningful supporter for the actor. When Boseman and several other students were accepted in the Oxford Summer Program of the British American Drama Academy, the Emmy-nominated actress ensured that they would be able to afford to go there by enlisting the help of some major star power. 

"I didn't have money to pay for this," Boseman says in an interview on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon." "And so she got a few of her friends together and they paid for us to go ... when I came back, I got a beneficiary letter and it said Denzel Washington paid for you." Boseman finally met the "Training Day" actor before the premiere of "Black Panther" and felt confident sharing the information afterwards. He would give a passionate speech at Denzel Washington's AFI Life Achievement Award ceremony in 2019.