A Melbourne actress’s grassroots effort to send disadvantaged Indigenous and African kids to a free screening of Marvel’s Black Panther has caught the eye of Hollywood powerhouse Disney.
Wentworth star Shareena Clanton started an online fundraising effort last week to buy a group of disadvantaged kids tickets to see the film, which features a mostly black cast and has been hailed as a “cultural watershed”.
But on Tuesday Clanton’s GoFundMe page, which at the time of publishing had reached 30 per cent of its goal, received a big boost when it was brought to the attention of Disney Studios’ publicity arm in Australia.
The studio reached out to Clanton to donate the funds to make one full screening of Black Panther accessible to Indigenous and African kids in Melbourne.
OH WOW, DISNEY JUST STEPPED IN AND COVERED THE COSTS. IM CRYING?!?
— Vika the Aquarius (@endlessyarning) February 6, 2018
Although Disney pitched in the full $11,712 needed for one Melbourne screening, Clanton is hoping to receive more donations to fund another screening for those kids unable to attend the first one, or afford their own ticket to the film.
“It’s about seeing themselves represented on that screen. It’s about seeing Indigenous peoples rise up, essentially,” Clanton told The New Daily.
“And this film is the first of it’s kind, really. And it’s just sensational! It’s next level.”
When contacted for comment, Disney Studios Australia had very little to add in the way of an official comment.
“It all came about when we came across her GoFundMe page and we were able to facilitate a screening for her, which is great,” senior publicity manager Wendy Smith told The New Daily.
The news of Clanton’s fundraising success comes as glowing reviews for Black Panther flood in from critics and lucky early viewers.
New York Times reviewer Manohla Dargis called Black Panther, a “jolt of a film” that “creates wonder with great flair and feeling partly through something Hollywood rarely dreams of anymore: myth”.
The film is also smashing Marvel’s already mammoth box office records, rising to hold the record for biggest first-day ticket presale of any Marvel movie – a title previously held by 2016’s Captain America: Civil War.
Black Panther is the studio’s latest standalone film in its superhero franchise and the first to be directed by an African-American filmmaker, Creed director Ryan Coogler.
Marvel’s unprecedented focus on diversity onscreen and behind the camera (the only other non-white director is New Zealander Taika Waititi, director of 2017 hit Thor: Ragnarok) has drawn praise in advance of the film’s release next week.
It also stars a nearly all-black cast, including lead Chadwick Boseman, Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, heart-throb Michael B Jordan, veteran screen goddess Angela Bassett and this year’s major Oscar contender, Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out).
It’s this diversity Clanton wishes to share with Indigenous and African youths in Melbourne, who she believes have been dealing with plenty of hardship of late.
Prominent Indigenous media figures that have been sharing the GoFundMe page online cited this year’s Invasion Day Rally on Australia Day and the “African Youth Gangs” debate as two issues young black kids in Melbourne have had to endure.
“One of the things that really fuelled my fire was seeing someone do something similar for kids in Harlem,” Clanton said.
“So I thought, “What can I do for our indigenous and black kids here in Australia?’.
“My hope is that they are reminded to stand strong in their truth, and steadfast in their own legacy. And I think this film is able to offer that.”