CHICAGO (CBS) — For days, fans around the world have been paying tribute to the late actor Chadwick Boseman.
CBS 2 learned he had a special relationship with a group of actors in Chicago, and a strong family tie. CBS 2’s Jim Williams reported Monday that Boseman quietly came to the city in February to offer his support.
Early this year, Nyajai Ellison was one of the stars of the Invictus Theatre production of the classic play “A Raisin in the Sun.” During intermission she stepped outside. When she returned, the backstage area was abuzz.
They said “Nyajai, where are you? You just missed the Black Panther.”
Indeed, Chadwick Boseman was the Black Panther. And Jackie Robinson, Thurgood Marshall, and James Brown.
On February 16, at the a theater of only 50 seats, sat an unassuming superstar with no fanfare. Boseman was indeed in the audience. Boseman’s nephew had directed the play.
Nyajai quietly walked to the seats and said Boseman’s wife recognized her.
“Oh my God, there she is. Girl you were amazing,” she said.
Nyajai seized the opportunity.
“(I said), ‘Mr. Boseman while I have you, is there any advice you can share with me as an actress?'” Ellison asked. “And he immediately jumped to the point. He said ‘just relax. Just breathe. Always remember to breathe. When take deep breaths, it allows to be more in sync with your character.'”
When she heard the news Friday night, Nyajai couldn’t talk.
“There’s no way this can real,” Ellison said. “There’s no way that we lost such a powerful young, gifted Black man who touched so many lives. Mine. Mine own personally.”
With less than a year to live, Boseman was at a small Chicago theatre, posing for photos and offering life changing advice.
“It was like everything became clear to me, like I was where I was supposed to be, I was living my purpose, and I had someone that I admired for years and years in my face telling that I was doing an amazing job,” Ellison said.
Boseman’s nephew is Aaron Reese Boseman and his is the founder of Pulse Theatre Chicago.