Alex Livinalli made quite the impression with his appearance in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. And maybe you don’t recognize him at first without his blue Talokan skin color. But you’ve seen him stand by Namor and Namora, take on those drilling for Vibranium, and take on one the fiercest warriors of the Dora Milaje: Okoye.
Yes, we’re talking about Attuma, the Talokan warrior with the distinct hammerhead headpiece that introduces us to this underwater civilization within the first act of Wakanda Forever. But he didn’t just wake up one day and be transformed into the battle-ready baddie. It took time, training, and becoming a solid trio with his co-stars Tenoch Huerta and Mabel Cadena.
Remezcla got a chance to interview Alex Livinalli about what it took to transform into Attuma, working with Huerta and Cadena, what his costume was like, and how grateful he is for the doors that have opened up for him and Latinos alike because of what Ryan Coogler and Marvel have brought to life.
The most important thing about Livinalli’s transformation into Attuma is that it took tons of training. And he wasn’t alone when he bulked up, learned how to fight, or even learned Mayan. He had Huerta and Cadena with him. Livinalli went on to say, “It’s like we were this tripod doing underwater training, or Mayan language training or stunt training. We all did it together. And it’s beautiful to look back and see the growth that we accomplished from day one.”
That’s not to say they didn’t have any fun. Because as you know, when Latine people get together, it’s always a good time. “We had so much fun. Literally. That’s so much fun.” And after working with these people, going through the hardships of weapons training, and even just doing their most recent press tour, Livinalli felt proud. “You can’t help it. But you feel proud of the work that you did, the time that you put in.”
While Livinalli spent a lot of time working on honing his body and mind to become Attuma, he also had to trust the team that worked with him day in and day out to create the visual aspects of this character that transform him into the Talokan warrior. And it wasn’t easy. But it was oh so real. Even the head huge headpiece. According to Livinalli, “Everything was real. Everything, the headpiece was real.”
And if that hammerhead headpiece was real, then Livinalli literally had a huge weight to carry around that included armor plates across his shoulders. “It was heavy. I wanna say the whole thing together was about 25 pounds. So it’s not easy learning to adjust your body to the movements when you’re carrying all that extra weight that you didn’t have two seconds ago. But it was a challenge.”
But at the end of the day, everything that he did to transform into Attuma was worth it if it means that people see themselves in these characters or in a character for the first time.
Livinalli emphasized this by recounting walking down the red carpet for the premiere and seeing cosplayers dressed as the Wakanda Forever characters. “There was a kid there. He must have been five or six years old and he was dressed as Namor. And to see his eyes, to look into his eyes…there was so much pride and just wow. I can’t even begin to explain what I felt.”
The only thing that Livinalli could do was go over, shake his hand, and make sure to hold on to that feeling. “Growing up here in the States, I didn’t see people that looked like me or sounded like me. And to be part of something that’s gonna give children an opportunity to see themselves, it’s like you can’t ask for anything more.”
At the heart of it, this is why Livinalli is so grateful to Wakanda Forever and director Ryan Coogler. They saw an opportunity to give the Latine community representation and opened the door for us to join them. “We would not be here if it wasn’t for the Black Panther, because of the doors they opened. They came in here, they knocked down the door and were like, “This is diversity. This is what diversity looks like. This is what representation looks like.”
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is now in theaters.