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James Brown's daughter calls late Chadwick Boseman 'epitome of Black excellence'

Deanna Brown Thomas said Boseman visited with her family before portraying her father in the film “Get On Up.”
/ Source: TODAY

The daughter of James Brown spoke at a memorial service for the late actor Chadwick Boseman in his hometown of Anderson, South Carolina, on Thursday night.

Deanna Brown Thomas said Boseman had visited her family at their home for a weekend in Augusta, Georgia, before playing the late musician also known as the Godfather of Soul.

“He wasn’t Hollywood and I loved that about him,” she said of Boseman, adding he had shown up in jeans and a T-shirt. “It was just Chadwick from Anderson, South Carolina, and I loved that about him.”

Thomas said Boseman had understood the importance of the role, and taken “everything we told him and he used it” in the film — right down to the way Boseman’s James Brown walked.

“He told my son… ‘This is your family’s history, this is important to your family and your family's future. So we gotta get this right, we gotta put as much truth to this as we can,’” she said. “And he did that. And he did it at an excellent level. Because to me, he is the epitome of Black excellence.”

Boseman also portrayed Jackie Robinson in “42," the first Black U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall in "Marshall" and, of course, King T’challa in “Black Panther.”

“Can you imagine the weight he carried, playing the icons he played?” Thomas asked, adding he’ll forever be an inspiration.

“Chadwick Boseman will be with us for years and years…There’s a Chadwick Boseman out here right now,” she said, pointing at the sky. “In ‘Black Panther,’ there was a line from Michale B. Jordan: ‘Is this your king?’ Yes! This is our king.”

Boseman died last week after a four-year battle with colon cancer at the age of 43.

“A true fighter, Chadwick persevered through it all, and brought you many of the films you have come to love so much," his family said in a statement. "From Marshall to Da 5 Bloods, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom and several more, all were filmed during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy. ⁣⁣It was the honor of his career to bring King T’Challa to life in Black Panther.”

The mayor of Anderson, South Carolina, confirmed at Thursday's event that the city is starting a public art endowment fund to "do something that honors the life of Chadwick Boseman." In recent days, thousands of people have signed petitions asking the city to replace a Confederate monument in front of the courthouse with a statue of Boseman.