Angela Bassett on 'Black Panther' 's Message for African-Americans: 'You're of Kings and Queens'

"It's something that we've ... never seen it before," the actress told PEOPLE's Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle

Angela Bassett is breaking down why Black Panther is much more than just a comic-book movie.

“It’s something that we’ve … never seen it before,” the actress tells PEOPLE’s Editor-in-Chief Jess Cagle in the latest episode of The Jess Cagle Interview (streaming now on People TV).

Bassett, 59, who stars as the Queen Mother of Wakanda, said the film offers a long-overdue depiction of people of color in proud roles.

“We would tell our kids you’re of kings and of queens,” she explains. “We try to instill a sense of pride, and this is that moment where we can look on that screen and see all of that history that we’ve read — that if we’ve been privileged to go back to the motherland to experience — to see it manifested onscreen for the first time.”

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The actress also says she was impressed with the way the film depicted “all the wounds and all the disconnection” that generations of African Americans have felt in America. “The connection to our past, our potential, who we might have been, our aspirations of what we want to do of saving others, of bringing those [who have] less along with you, the sacrifices that are made and what they do to our psyches and to our bodies and to our relationships, it has all of that.”

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She continues, “And I think that’s why we get so much emotion. It’s big, it’s action, it’s futuristic but it’s also so grounded in what we go through. Showing up and having to be more and better and give all and defy expectation and stereotype [while] still being loving and brilliant and having something to give and to share.”

Black Panther hits theaters Friday.

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