This “Black Panther” Actor Was Undocumented

This “Black Panther” Actor Was Undocumented

02.26.19
Undocumented actor Bambadjan Bamba appears in the Oscar-winning film "Black Panther." (Photo: Bryan Ward/Flickr)
02.26.19

You might know that at the 2019 Oscars ceremony, “Black Panther” went home with three Academy Awards. But you might not have known that one of the film’s actors was undocumented and is now protected by DACA, which stands for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

If you’ve seen NBC’s “The Good Place” or the opening scene of “Black Panther,” where T’Challa kicks the asses of a group of bad guys, then you’ve come across actor Bambadjan Bamba.

In late 2017, Bamba came out as undocumented and a DACA recipient. This was around the time President Trump pushed forward his plans to terminate DACA, an Obama-era policy that grants temporary legal status for two years to some undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States when they were children.

These undocumented people have sometimes been called “Dreamers” and could qualify for citizenship under specific circumstances set out in the DREAM Act, a bill that has been in the works since 2001 but has never passed.

“I realized that I couldn’t stay quiet anymore, especially now that I have a daughter who at the time turned 1,” Bamba said.


“I was like, ‘Man, am I just going to sit here in fear and just wait for this thing to be terminated and be separated from my family?’” Bamba said, referring to the DACA program. “That’s when I had to get some guts … and use my platform to help make a difference.”

Bamba said some people warned him against talking about this part of his life out of fear that Trump could take specific action against him. But he didn’t let that stop him.

Other famous people who’ve also made headlines for being undocumented include rapper 21 Savage and journalist Jose Antonia Vargas. “Orange is the New Black” actress Diane Guerrero knows the pain of being separated from one’s family, as her parents were deported.

Actors like Bambadjan Bamba help show that the DACA community is wider than people likely think, and that other DACA recipients aren’t alone.

“Ultimately I was at peace with that decision [to talk about my status]. I took a leap of faith. Thank God I’m still here,” Bamba said.

The full interview with Bambadjan Bamba will be featured in Season 2 of YR Media’s podcast, “Adult ISH,” which is dropping in late Spring 2019.

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