Gina Prince-Bythewood on the history and impact of the woman king

The original pitch for The Woman King was shopped around Hollywood for five years before finally being given the green light. What were your thoughts when you first read the script?

The first thought was, “I have to do this. Definitely.” I was so connected in five minutes. When I read that they are rising above the grasses and ready to make ham, I thought, “I want to photograph this.” The more I read and then delved into the more personal stories woven into this film, I felt like it was something I had never seen before, but something I wanted to see and am my first Audience.

How did you go about balancing the celebration of the strength and camaraderie of the Agojie with an acknowledgment of the darker side of their involvement in the slave trade?

It was about telling the truth. We wanted to be authentic. It’s a complicated story that has sadly grappled with thousands of cultures over the years, but we focused on these women, this incredible group of women whose stories were untold, and to focus on their urges, things to change within kingdom.

I was curious how you narrated the timeline of things because by the end of the film it’s at least implied that they’re finally abolishing slavery. From what I’ve read, however, this didn’t happen until the 1850s, three decades later. How did you go about it?

For us, the end means they won this battle, but a war goes on. Of course it was important to tell the truth, and the ships are leaving for now, they will return, but these warriors stand there, ready for battle. Gina Prince-Bythewood on the history and impact of the woman king

Charles Jones

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