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Avellon Williams 

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – His popularity skyrocketed to fame after being cast within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) as M’Baku as seen in Black Panther, and Avengers: Infinity War. 

Winston Duke /Image, LN/

Winston Duke was born on 15 November 1986 in Argyle, Saint Paul, Trinidad, and Tobago. As a child, he spent his early childhood days there until the age of nine (9). Currently residing in LA, California, USA, with his mother Cora Pantin and sister, he holds dual citizenship with Trinidad and Tobago and the United States.

Winston Duke M’Baku Wakanda /Image, BM/

During an interview with Discover TT, in Trinidad, “Winston recalled running up and down the beach with friends, exploring his neighborhood with family, and enjoying a strong sense of community. Adding that family that always cooked and laughed together, families that supported each other and welcomed each other anytime. One of his fondest memories is the freshly baked bread and sweet bread that his cousin, who lived about 10 miles away, delivered to him by bicycle. Being part of something and somewhere – knowing that I belonged – is what I remember most.”

In particular, he remembers his village’s annual Harvest Festival, Tobago life. “Nothing I’ve ever experienced has compared to that kind of interaction between family and community.”

“My entire village cooked and opened their homes for others – including complete strangers – to eat, drink, dance, and converse freely. By sharing the celebrations and the struggles of island life, everyone got to know each other better.”

Duke’s move was a difficult transition from Tobago to the USA /Image, RD/

As Duke described it, moving was an extremely difficult transition for him. Having to adjust to a new culture was extremely difficult. Having been raised in an extended family of 12 children, emigrating to a place with just his mother and sister and few support systems was challenging for him. As a result of the different cultures, mindsets, and development of the environment, it was very difficult to acclimate. As a result, Duke retreated deeply within himself. 

Although he often wanted to return home, he also knew it wasn’t in the cards. Essentially, Duke’s plan was to build… to achieve… to gain something valuable and unique.

Duke meeting with Jordan Peele /Image, THR/

During the period from 2014 to 2016, Duke was cast in five television shows, including Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Person of Interest, The Messengers, Major Crimes, and Modern Family. Duke made his film debut in the Oscar-nominated Black Panther in 2018.

Winston Duke aka M’Baku /Image, KFK/

The character he played was M’Baku, the leader of the treacherous Jabari Tribe. Additionally, Duke was featured in the movie Avengers: Infinity War that year. The Savannah Film Festival, the nation’s largest university-run festival, presented him with the “Breakout Award” that year. Additionally, he won the “Best Movie Actor” award at the MTV Movie + TV Awards.

Summit in New York 2018 /UNW/

At the HeForShe Impact Summit in New York City in 2018, Duke openly petitioned for solutions to achieve gender equality as a human rights activist. Duke received the Screen Actors Guild Award for “Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture” for his roles as Gabe Wilson and Abraham in the blockbuster horror film Us.

In 2020, he starred in the Netflix thriller Spenser Confidential. Moreover, Duke was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture” and received the “Excellence in Acting Award” at the Denver International Film Festival.

Chadwick Boseman /Image, FW/

There is a lot of hype surrounding Black Panther 2, Wakanda Forever. With actor Chadwick Boseman’s death, the sequel will need a new hero to carry on the burden. Will Marvel select Winston Duke M’Baku as the new Black Panther? 

Winston Duke is featured in Wakanda Forever 2 /Image, CC/

To Caribbean actors and filmmakers around the region and beyond, Duke offers three pieces of advice: Know yourself, know your mission, and know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Your own intentions will define who you are once you master and own this!

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Avellon Williams

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