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Dorothy Steel (1926–2021), “Black Panther” actress

by Linnea Crowther

Dorothy Steel was an actress best known for playing a tribal elder in Marvel’s “Black Panther.”

Late-blooming actress

Steel didn’t begin acting until long after her retirement from her career as a senior revenue officer with the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, she was in her 80s when she first appeared on stage, in plays put on by her Atlanta-area senior center. There, she was discovered by an acting teacher and an agent, who were impressed by her authoritative stage presence.

Steel was 90 when she auditioned for “Black Panther” and was cast as an elder of the Merchant Tribe. Her other films include “Jumanji: The Next Level,” “Poms,” and “Daisy Winters.” On TV, she had a recurring role in “Saints & Sinners.” At the time of her death, Steel had nearly completed her filming for the upcoming “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.”

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Steel on filming “Black Panther”

“We were one big melting pot of black people and we knew we were doing something that had never been done before. Ya know?” —from a 2018 interview for WSB-TV

Tributes to Dorothy Steel

Full obituary: The New York Times

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