‘A Perfect Coach’: Indigenous Actor Josué Maychi Taught Mayan Language To ‘Wakanda Forever’ Cast
If you watched “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” over the weekend, you found yourself immersed in the underwater world of Talokan — the Mayan-inspired kingdom ruled by fierce demigod Namor, played by Mexican actor Tenoch Huerta.
Now that the film is finally out, viewers are taking note of Talokan’s impressive attention to authenticity, especially its use of the Yucatec Maya language.
Creators brought in Maya-Mexican actor Josué Maychi as both a cast member and a Mayan language coach to teach his native tongue to the rest of the “Wakanda Forever” actors. While the 34-year-old plays a shaman in the box-office hit, fellow actor Huerta exclusively told mitú that Maychi was the “perfect coach,” and was “really aware” in making the Mayan dialogue “the best” it could possibly be.
With Latinx representation at the forefront, the new side of the franchise is a result of deep research into Maya culture, including everything from consulting with cultural experts to studding costumes with gorgeous jade. It makes sense director Ryan Coogler would bring in Maychi to make sure they lived up to the beauty of the culture — a move Huerta explained to us was “really helpful” in bringing spellbinding Talokan to life.
Even more, the sprawling seascape of Talokan brings in an epic Latino cast, including Huerta, Venezuelan actor Alex Livinalli as warlord Attuma, and Nahua-Mexican actress Mabel Cadena as demigoddess and warrior Namora.
As Cadena described to Gizmodo, “It’s crazy because I can find in the movie the little things from my Mexican culture. And if you hear the Mayan language it’s like, ‘Oh my God, can you believe we have representation for the first time in a movie like this?’”
Still, learning elements of the Mayan language for the dialogue wasn’t easy, with Huerta telling us it was actually quite “hard.” Even though the lexicon is “different from Spanish” and the rest of the Romance languages, its difficulty was still no match for language coach Maychi, who recently took to Twitter to talk about what an “honor” the experience was for him.
Maychi wrote, “This challenging adventure began a year ago. Having this small role and being a Mayan language coach in ‘Black Panther’ has been an honor.” The “Presencias” actor continued, “I feel proud to see the results of months of work and effort from the whole team, who I admire so much.”
Over on Instagram, the actor wrote a few more words, describing how the Mayan language “lives and sounds, Ku kíilbal maayat’aan.” The language expert went on, thanking creators for the opportunity and writing, “I am so happy to see Mexican actors with skin like mine shining on the big screen. Projects like these fill me with hope that in the future there will be Indigenous people represented both in the past and present.”
Even more amazing? Maychi arrived at the movie’s Mexico premiere with his parents by his side, dressed in traditional Yucatecan outfits. The Hopelchén, Campeche-born actor told Yucatán Magazine, “It’s very important to me to honor my Mayan roots and great to see its representation in a movie like this.”
As the actor himself wrote over on Instagram, “¡Líik’ik talokan!”
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