Chadwick Boseman’s Widow Reveals How They Met and Reflects on Losing the ‘Black Panther’ Star
Chadwick Boseman’s widow Simone Ledward Boseman sat down with Whoopi Goldberg for an ABC exclusive about her late husband.
The “Black Panther” star died in August 2020 after a battle with colon cancer. He was just 43 years old.
During the interview, Simone revealed how she met the Marvel star, how they kept his cancer a secret, and his legacy.
Ledward Boseman said she met Chadwick while she was working at a James Brown tribute concert at the Hollywood Bowl. At the time, he had already shot the 2014 biopic “Get on Up.”
They were both working, so she said she was keeping it “professional” and that he was being “really respectful,” but he was still dropping hints that he was interested.
"We were on the side of the stage at a certain point, and I guess he didn't know if I was really catching his hints. And he just kinda randomly just bent down and untied one of my shoelaces… as a little joke. And I said, 'Oh, okay, so this is flirting, this is him flirting with me.' And then he got back down and said, 'Oh, I'm sorry.' He got back down, and he retied my shoelace."
She confessed, "I fell for him pretty quick, honestly. I just came to a realization that I could really trust him."
Simone described him as “so intentional,” adding, "He did not go into anything with his eyes closed. And I knew that I could follow him off the edge of a cliff because he's got a plan, you know?"
She continued, "I think when I really realized that, it was like, 'Okay. This is it. We're not going anywhere. I'm in it. He's in it.’”
"He was just the smartest, most caring, most genuine, most just real, authentic, truth in everything — like nobody that I had ever met."
At another point in the conversation, Ledward Boseman shared, "I can't believe that I was so lucky. I can't believe that I got to love this person and I also got them to love me, too. Sure, he was an actor and that was — there was a lot of fun stuff that we got to do. But he was an artist."
She went on, "He was an artist, and he was a leader and he was a king. And that I got to be by his side for that — that he chose me to be by his side for that is just, it's the greatest blessing. Even with the pain of his loss, now I still get to have this beautiful spirit relationship with him. And that, while it's difficult to accept, is also beautiful because he's an ancestor now. He is and he is never leaving me."
The couple was together for about two years before he was diagnosed with stage III colon cancer in 2016. The disease eventually progressed to stage IV over the course of four years.
The actor kept his health issues private, and his widow explained, "There was always some level of concern. But we really do have a very, very trusted circle of people that were there to support him, and support me, and help us, you know, do the best that we could with the challenging time."
"I think that like any human person, we all have fear, we all have doubt — we want to know that we're doing the right thing. And I think that there were a lot of times for him where he felt like he didn't have someone that could give him the answers," she said. "But that is really a lifelong lesson in knowing that the answers don't exist outside of yourself — that you're the only one with the answers."
Simone continued, "I think that the hardest thing was wondering if he was going to have enough time to do all the work that he wanted to do, because he was very clear on what he needed to do.”
“Black Panther” hit theaters in 2018 and made over a billion dollars worldwide. Less than two years later, Boseman passed away.
"It really was the most powerful piece of work that Chad… was able to lay the foundation for," she said, adding, “He will always and forever be a part of that kingdom, you know?... When people fall in love with [that] character, they're falling in love with Chad.”
She’s happy the story will continue with “Wakanda Forever,” saying, "I think that when one group of people is lifted up, that it creates space for another group of people to be lifted up.”
Ledward Boseman said Chadwick’s health took a downturn just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020.
"That meant that everybody was in their house, and there was no pressure for anybody to go outside, or go to a meeting, or be seen," she said. “As much as that [was] just such an awful time in the world, it seemed like, 'Is this a crazy coincidence that we get to actually be inside? We get to be here with family… together.’"
She said their circle of friends and family was “basically a dot.”
"Everybody in the world is also experiencing this togetherness in the midst of this awful, scary, unpredictable time, so it really reduced, I think, that risk of — you have to be out, you have to go do thi … It reduced that for us,” Simone said.
Following his passing, Chadwick’s legacy lives on. Howard University reestablished the college of fine arts and named it after him and students can apply for the Chadwick A. Boseman Memorial Scholarship. Simone is also in the early stages of getting a foundation set up in his name.
Simone said that the past two years have been "the most challenging two years I've ever had in my life” and that "imbuing Chad's spirit in everything that I'm doing" is "beautiful" and "painful.”
"Those two things coexisting has been incredibly overwhelming at times," she said. "Some days I'm doing worse than I'm really willing to acknowledge. And other days I'm doing better than I feel comfortable admitting."
ABC News will also air the “20/20 Presents Black Panther: In Search of Wakanda” special hosted by Robin Roberts on November 4 at 8 p.m. ET.
“Extra’s” Melvin Robert recently caught up with "Wakanda Forever" stars Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira and Letitia Wright, who are remembered the original Black Panther. Watch.