95-year-old actress who played tribal elder in ‘Black Panther’ dies

Dorothy Steel, 91, makes her big screen debut in 'Black Panther'

ATLANTA — A 95-year-old actress who appeared in Marvel blockbuster “Black Panther” has died.

Dorothy Steel was 95. She died Friday morning at her home in Detroit. “She went out strong,” her publicist said.

Prior to her death, she lived in Atlanta for many years.

Steel played a tribe leader in the fictional land of Wakanda in the film, which was shot in metro Atlanta. Her role in “Black Panther” was her biggest, but she had a handful of credits in other films, including “Jumanji: The Next Level.”

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“It was just amazing, it truly was,” Steel told Channel 2 of the experience in 2018. “If anyone would have told me I would be an actor, I would’ve said you got to be out of your mind.”

Steel was born in Detroit in 1926 and didn’t land her first acting role until she was 88 years old. “Black Panther” was her first appearance on the big screen.

She was in the middle of filming “Black Panther 2” when she died, according to her publicist. The Marvel franchise flew her home to Detroit to spend her last moments with loved ones.

“This was going to be my last role,” Steel said, according to her publicist.

In 2018, Steel told Channel 2 that Marvel casting directors called her just one hour after she sent in her audition tape.


Steel ended up landing the part of the merchant tribal elder who advises the King of Wakanda played by lead actor Chadwick Boseman.

“Chadwick the King. Every day, he would make sure if I was on the set, he would come by and make sure he gave me a big old hug and kiss,” Steel said.

Boseman died of colon cancer in 2020.

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Steel said she became the “grandmother” on the set of ‘Black Panther,’ which she said is not just a movie but a movement.

“We were one big melting pot of black people and we knew we were doing something that had never been done before. Ya know?” she said.

Steel said the women of Wakanda ruled ‘Black Panther.’

“We have power and it’s time for us to step up and take over. That’s what we have to do and take over,” she said.

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