Lashana Lynch’s ‘Woman King’ Movie Training Was ‘Traumatic’ For A Relatable Reason

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Lashana Lynch isn’t new to playing strong female characters on screen, but that doesn’t mean preparing for them isn’t daunting. In his new movie The female king, Lynch stars alongside Viola Davis as Izogie, a member of the ruthless all-female African warrior band called Agojie. Izogie is fearless in battle while training the next generation of warriors. Lynch won the role without having to audition after an instant connection with director Gina Prince-Bythewood, Lynch tells The Zoe Report for the Sept. 22 cover story titled “Hi Lashana Lynch.” “I wanted to write more for her,” Prince-Bythewood said of Lynch’s presence in her film. “I wanted to give him more. I wanted to keep building Izogie to honor how dope Lashana is.

Naturally, playing a warrior of Izogie’s stature required intense training, especially since Prince-Bythewood wanted Lynch to perform his own stunts. “Getting up and going to the gym every day can be really traumatic,” Lynch said, detailing how she would spend three or four hours in the gym after finishing a day of filming for her roles in Matilda and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and continued the routine on a press tour for his James Bond film no time to die. Often these workouts didn’t start until after 6 p.m.

But the intense training with trainer Gabriela Mclain and stunt coordinator Daniel Hernandez wasn’t just for her looks. “It was really physical training that got me into the space where I even got to figure out how I train rookies,” she explained how it affected her mental preparation. “What would the morning routine look like? How does she step aside to breathe life into these young girls?

Lynch found other points of connection with her character that extended beyond Izogie’s physicality. “I can’t relate to having a dagger in my chest. I can’t relate to wielding a machete,” she said. “However, I can relate to turning my trauma in beauty, channeling it into physical labor and launching yourself into really caring for young people, especially young black girls who aspire to be something big.”

She also made sure to strike the right balance between power and humor. “I didn’t want the young girls to be afraid of Izogie, but I wanted them to be afraid of her just enough that they would back off a bit when she passed them,” Lynch recalled. “I found humor was the best way to go about it, because they’re kids and she sees herself in them a bit.”

The actor explained that working on The female king set, while demanding, was one of the best experiences of her career simply because she was surrounded by like-minded people. “I didn’t have to explain myself,” she said. “I didn’t have to explain why that thing in the script didn’t make sense to a black woman. Or as a dark-skinned woman, if the scene is in a corner, how are we going to light it? will you see me? There are all these conversations that I didn’t have to have that made me feel so relaxed.

To learn more about Lashana Lynch’s journey, read the full “All Hail Lashana Lynch” cover story on TZRwritten by author Esther Zuckerman and photographed by the photographer Christian Cody.

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Richard V. Johnson