By Naeisha Rose
More than 200 kids will get the chance to go to a screening of the “Black Panther” film Tuesday at the Jamaica Multiplex Cinemas, thanks to the contributions of Jamaica actor Shomari, who stars in the superhero flick.
Shomari has a role as a drummer in the fictional African nation of Wakanda for the Jabari, a tribe whose leader, M’baku (Winston Duke), tries to challenge the new king T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman), who is also the eponymous hero Black Panther, for his throne.
“It is definitely a dream come true to have a role in the film,” Shomari said. “I was always big on comics and superheroes.”
Having a role in the African-set film is a great source of pride for Shomari, whose grandfather told him stories about growing up in Sierra Leone, a West African country.
His grandfather also encouraged him to perform on African drums when he was a kid and at PS 132 in Laurelton. Shomari learned to play snare drums, too.
“I first started drumming when I was in the third grade,” said the actor. “He kind of enforced it and supported me playing the traditional African drums.”
After landing the role and realizing the cultural impact of starring in the first black-led modern superhero film, Shomari started a “Black Panther Challenge” campaign to raise $3,000 for 100 deserving local kids from the YMCA, the Showing Hearts Foundation, the Dominico-American Society of Queens, A Better Jamaica and the I.R.I.E. Butterfly Foundation with support from Resorts World Casino, located in South Ozone Park.
Shomari surpassed the original GoFundMe goal and raised $4,500 for the private screening and he will be able to take more than an additional 100 students to see the film.
Resorts World Casino will also give the students Black Panther T-shirts.
Shomari also has a role in the first black-led live-action superhero show on The CW Network, “Black Lightning.”
He will be playing a police lieutenant on the 10th episode, which will air March 27.
Shomari can’t wait for the kids to see the film.
“I did this because despite where the kids are from and how rough their upbringing may be, they too have the opportunity to be great – to be kings and queens and superheroes in their individual lives.”
“Black Panther” debuted nationwide last Friday and recorded the fifth-best opening weekend of all-time, according to box office reports.
Reach reporter Naeisha Rose by e-mail at nrose