Interview with a Dora Milaje: Meet Black Panther’s Carrie Bernans!

Hi Carrie! So in Black Panther you play one of the super fierce, spear-wielding Dora Milaje tasked with protecting the King himself- Black Panther. But you’re a bad a** in your own right! Can you tell us a bit about yourself? 

Hey Hey! Yes, as you mentioned, I am an actress / stunt woman / martial artist. I was born in Richmond, VA and spent my early childhood years in Panama, Central America, Richmond, VA and surrounding cities/states on the East Coast. I’m known most for action acting right now, but open to whatever the universe, aka God, allows. I train in martial arts, stunts, and body movement in addition to theater.

Carrie kicking butt in a Black Panther teaser screengrab

I grew up poor to a single parent teenage mother and moved place to place in my childhood, but I didn’t allow that to hold me back, but used it to propel me forward. I performed in plays, danced in dance recitals, and competed in track and field throughout my early teenage years. I went on to run track at the University of Memphis, in Tennessee, a place I consider another home. After facing a serious injury, I decided to leave the possibility of the Olympics behind, left track, and took off studying abroad around the world for 2 years in Shanghai, China, Paris, France, London, England, and Berlin, Germany. I speak 6 languages. Learning Spanish as a child and picking up Mandarin, Chinese, French, Russian, and Latvian in my late teen and early adult years from immersion in these countries and the friendships I built internationally. I always thought of myself as the black girl James Bond.

I grew up poor to a single parent teenage mother and moved place to place in my childhood, but I didn’t allow that to hold me back, but used it to propel me forward.

After finishing college and navigating the ropes in corporate America, I no longer wanted to feel enclosed on doing my life’s dream which was being an actress, entrepreneur, and world traveler. Since leaving my last corporate job with the NBA, I haven’t looked back. I have experienced what people may call a dream or a “life worth living.” And haven’t regret the many days I only have a few dollars in the bank account and have to drive Uber to pay for acting classes, It’s been all worth every bit of hustle. I have booked over 60 different projects in the entertainment world ranging from TV shows, music videos, to modeling at LA Fashion Week, to doing well-known brands commercials, and even working on two Marvel projects, Black Panther and Luke Cage. I continue to break barriers for what the idea image of a person could become or could do when they come from a single-parent household that was in and out of homelessness. I strive to be an example that no matter what you been through or where you are from, you can do anything.

When it comes to powerful women, the world of Black Panther has plenty to look up to. I know I’m super stoked to cosplay characters from the movies and comics but I’m torn between Shuri and Ororo (Storm). Which would you choose?

Ohhh geez, this is a hard decision. It’s like your asking me to choose between two bestfriends lol. They both are so unique and so powerful in so many ways…there’s no way I can choose one at this moment. 😉

Along with playing a warrior in Black Panther you also appeared in Luke Cage, so we’ve gotta ask…who do you think would win in a fight? Luke, or T’Challa and why? 

Again, I would have to say that’s a trick question like being at a holiday dinner and someone asks who is your favorite family member lol….I would say in the world of fighting good versus evil, they would team up and take on the villains. These are both my brothers and they both have their strengths and weaknesses and I think they complement each other together as a crime fighting team.

Being a part of the most melanated, hydrated and celebrated movies of all time must be exciting! But where can we expect to see you next?

Girl, you said a mouthful. You are right, melanated, hydrated, sophisticated, and celebrated….lovvee all the “ated’d” lol…I’m currently working on some projects that I can’t disclose. But, I will say that my goal is for everyone to see me as a Black Girl James bond kicking lots of ass and representing AND you know, leading an action series…the future is looking bright and full of amazing opportunities so let’s check-in mid-year 😉

Any final thoughts for anyone reading this who wants to chuck the deuces at a conventional career and follow in your footsteps?

Hahahaha….yes, throw them deuces up and follow your dreams and passion. You only live once and if you do it right, once is enough unless you can come back as a cool cheetah or something lol…But seriously, I personally left corporate America when I did because I was putting in hella hours…like 50-70 hours a week, traveling and working and then one day it hit me. I was thinking if I could dictate how fast I moved up and how fast I grew by the number of hours I was putting in and how hard I worked, then I should do it with something I’m passionate about and figure out if this thing I said was a dream really a dream. You’ll realize that early on because you’ll go broke chasing it, you’ll find yourself up at 4AM doing’ll sacrifice wants to have it and make it come true. So, my advice is…if you don’t have children or any huge responsibility….the time is now. Just do it. Try it out. Figure it out. Come up with the plan and take a leap of faith.

Just do it. Try it out. Figure it out. Come up with the plan and take a leap of faith.

It’ll be difficult to start but the fire and passion inside of you will keep you going even when you want to quit. And just so you and the readers know, I saved up some money for a couple months and made an impulse decision. I talked with my guy at the time and he was basically onboard and we moved the following month with no real job and just 2 months of rent down and some eating money. It was the best decision ever. Once you get tired of having time restrictions and everyone else’s say on how fast or how slow you can do something, you’ll wake up and realize the time is now. Do it.

Thanks Carrie! Shop Carrie’s Princess of Wakanda tee at Adorned by Chi and keep up with her online!:

What did you think of Carrie’s story? Share thoughts below!

  • Aisha


    I am SHOOK. I saw the photo of her rocking the tee on insta, but didn’t realize she is ACTUALLY one of the Dora Milaje in the movie! I thought you were kidding! Omggggggg! This is so cool. She is definitely bad ass! 🙌🏾

  • Connie McCracklin


    Awesome interview!!!💜 We are very proud of you Carrie!!!

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