Inside Wakandacon, a Paradise for Black Cosplayers

Wakanda might be a fictional place but a version of it comes to life in Chicago every summer.

After several trips to the movie theater to watch the record-breaking superhero film “Black Panther,” David Barthwell and his two siblings enlisted the help of their friends to create their own Afrofuturist utopia.

“We found Wakanda to be a place of radical inclusivity, a place of feminism, a space where there is economic independence and a strong focus on community, a space of education and a focus on technology,” said Barthwell in a VICE News interview.

This summer, the group organized a weekend of black empowerment and creativity for the second time, dubbing it “WakandaCon” in homage to the fictional uncolonized African kingdom. The “Black Panther” film’s influence at the convention is pretty clear – from the cosplay to fight choreography workshops.

But the real draw was the aspirational concept of Wakanda. Organizers say 3,000 people attended the second annual WakandaCon.

“There aren’t many spaces where we can be ourselves without being policed by other people,” said Me’Lisa Lashon, dressed in an original costume “Miss Wakanda 2019”, partly inspired by her days in Texan beauty pageant scene.

WakandaCon is among a handful of conventions like Blerdfest and BlerdCon that formed over the past several years as a more inclusive alternative to mainstream cons.

VICE News went to Chicago to see what it looks like to recreate Wakanda.

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Stars of ‘Black Panther’ and more hit the NAACP Image Awards red carpet

The stars of ‘Black Panther’ and plenty of colorful dresses dominated the red carpet at the 50th NAACP Image Awards in Hollywood on Saturday (30 March).

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Trailblazing ‘Black Panther’ costume designer aims to inspire

Ruth E. Carter is looking to inspire young artists with her work as a trailblazing costume designer. The longtime Spike Lee collaborator says she hopes her upcoming career achievement award and Oscar nomination for her Afro-futuristic wardrobes in “Black Panther” can “knock down” more doors so others like herself can walk through them. (Feb. 14)

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ShowBiz Minute: Jackson, SAG Awards, ‘Rent: Live’

(28 Jan 2019) Michael Jackson’s family condemns new documentary accusing late pop star of sexual abuse; “Black Panther” takes home top honor at Screen Actors Guild Awards; “Rent: Live” star injury during rehearsal forces producers to air pre-recorded material. (Jan. 28)

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Boseman celebrates being ‘young, gifted and black’

(28 Jan 2019) Chadwick Boseman discusses backstage the importance of “Black Panther” cast winning the top prize at the Screen Actors Guild Awards. (Jan. 28)

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Highlights from the 25th Annual SAG Awards

(28 Jan 2019) “Black Panther” takes home the top award at the 25th Screen Actors Guild Awards, while Glenn Close and Rami Malek solidify themselves as Oscar front-runners. (Jan. 27)

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Top entertainment news from 2018

From films such as Crazy Rich Asians and Black Panther creating a global buzz, to actresses standing up and protesting for equal pay, to Kanye West showing his love for Donald Trump, 2018 has been a colourful and eventful year in the entertainment world.

Slater, Gurira, Mann react to Golden Globe nominees

(6 Dec 2018) Christian Slater is pleased for his nominated friends, DanaiGurira gets to celebrate for “Black Panther” and #LeslieMann thinks Rami Malek is award-worthy – as stars react to Thursday’s Golden Globe nominations. (Dec. 6)

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‘Black Panther’ stars stun at THR Women in Entertainment breakfast

(5 Dec 2018) “Black Panther” stars, plus Viola Davis, Lena Dunham and more arrive at The Hollywood Reporter Women in Entertainment breakfast. (Dec. 6)

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Showbiz Minute: Cardi B, AFI, Hart

Cardi B announces she and her husband Offset have split up; “Black Panther,” ?A Star Is Born” and “Mary Poppins Returns” among the American Film Institute’s top 10 films of the year; Kevin Hart to host the 2019 Academy Awards. (Dec. 5)

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