Florence Kasumba: “I would love to play the sweet girl from next door”

Florence Kasumba can still remember when she got a call from her agent telling her that she had gotten that clandestine role, which she had auditioned for. “At that time, I didn’t know what movie it was for,” she recalls, “but it was very clear who she was. Someone who was trained in martial arts, whose mission is to make sure that somebody gets from A to B — fast and safe. That is all I knew,” shares the German actress who is part of the Dora Milaje in Marvel’s “Black Panther.”

“When you do an audition for a movie like that, most of the time you do not know, at least in my case, what you are auditioning for, because people talk too much,” adds Kasumba, who first appeared in “Captain America: Civil War.”

Florence Kasumba

With her statuesque look and martial arts training, the audition earned her the role of Ayo, who is part of a squad of strong fierce women who serve as the personal security force to the King and royal family. Although, Kasumba initially only signed on for “Captain America: Civil War,” she’s reprised the role of Ayo in two more Marvel movies, “Black Panther,” which releases on DVD later this month and  “Avengers: Infinity War,” which is currently out in theaters.

Packed with bonus materials, the “Black Panther” DVD/Blu-ray” includes several deleted scenes, and a piece which focuses on the Dora Milaj, the female warriors of Wakanda. “When you film for such a long time, as we rehearsed for months before filming began, there’s a lot of stuff, especially stuff I haven’t been involved in and a lot of bonus material that I am curious to see,” says the actress who admits she has watched “Black Panther” several times – four to be precise.

Known for roles that include the Dutch motion picture hit “Ik ook van Jou,” several television projects from ABC’s “The Quest” to NBC’s “Emerald City,” Kasumba, who was born in Kampala, Uganda, is a staple on German screens having starred in numerous television shows and stage plays such as “Mamma Mia,” “Chicago,” “Cats,” “West Side Story” and was cast in the title role in Germany’s production of Elton John’s hit musical “Aida.”

“My goal was always to play in musicals and while I was studying in Holland, I was cast in a movie and realized that I really liked both,” continues Kasumba who will voice Shenzi in the live-action remake of “The Lion King,” which releases next year.

Florence Kasumba – Photo by Janine Gilded

She’s excelled at playing the tough, stylish female and her canon is well stocked with empowered female roles, and if there is one role Kasumba would love to play, it would be that of the best friend.

“I don’t get the ‘sweet type’ jobs because I guess I don’t look like the sweet girl from next door,” laughs the actress. “It’s typecasting and a lot of the time I do understand. They see me playing serious characters and never think she can actually be funny. I’ve played a lot of nice strong characters and it’s fun to work, but I can also play different types of characters.”

“Black Panther” releases on Blu-ray and DVD May 15.

Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She can be reached at sofole@gmail.com

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