History has always been filled with trailblazers, Black trailblazers. Textbooks have not always been inclusive in telling those stories, but that doesn’t mean those people and stories are nonexistent. Chevalier is the story of Joseph Bologne, the illegitimate son of an African Slave and a French plantation owner who rose to fame in French high society as both a composer-violinist and fencer. While some have never heard of Chevalier Saint-George’s story, newer generations soon will. We sat down for an exclusive interview with Ronke Adekoluejo about her role as Nanon in Searchlight Pictures Chevalier premiering April 21st.
With this being a period piece, we had to ask what it was like filming on such a culturally rich location. Adekoluejo had this to say, “We were in Prague, most of my scenes were in Prague, it was really nice! The views and the architecture were so stunning, it got really cold! But the architecture we got to use was so beautiful.” She continued saying “it really comes across in the film, I had a great time…I love traveling for work. Exploring displacement, like ‘who am I in this world, how do I exist in this place.’”
When mentioning the intricacies of exploring new worlds and characters, we asked what it was like performing in the costumes of that time. She said, “the costumes were really beautiful, they’re quite interesting in terms of how you hold your body…everything was kind of restricted. It shows even in the film, so the stuff that they had to fight against in order to get their voice heard, their feelings felt, all of those things…kind of shows how much resilience these characters do have in order to be able to be free and expansive and colorful in the way that they are in the film.”
Even now, women (and especially Black women) can be judged based on how they choose to dress and style themselves. We asked how expressing yourself and your character varies within the context of the film and time period. “I feel like for that time, women were also very much held in, even now what we wear can kind of suggest the type of people that we are. I’m just more happy that I get to explore and offer different ways to express myself in the way that I dress and the way I wear my hair and portray myself to the world. Fashion has definitely evolved but it’s definitely still a language in which we use to communicate with each other.”
Adekoluejo even added, “I also was really interested in playing with how she wrapped her hair in the sense that her hair was where she kept her secrets, so in public how much of her hair was shown and in private how much of her hair was shown.”
The Chevalier, played by Kelvin Harrison Jr. (The High Note, Luce), is shown to be a little cocky about himself and his talents. We asked Ronke what she found most interesting about his character. She responded by saying, “For me it was the fact that he was able to elevate himself to such high heights in that time, and even now, it’s still difficult for people to expand and elevate themselves, but he managed, at that time, to not allow anyone or anything to bind him into labels. It’s so inspiring and fascinating and it’s magnetic; everything that Kelvin actually is in real life!”
We’re so excited to see all the history and drama unfold with other notable actors and actresses such as Minnie Driver (“Modern Love”, Cinderella) and Alex Fitzalan (“The Wilds”). Be sure to catch Ronke Adekoluejo as Nanon in Chevalier in theaters on April 21st! Check out the trailer below!
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