Friday, April 19, 2024

‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Actress Mabel Cadena: Freediving Training Gave Her ‘Mental Strength’


Learning how to freedive as part of her training for her role in Marvel Studios’ upcoming “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” gave Mexican actor Mabel Cadena the “mental strength” to get through all of her underwater scenes.

Cadena, who plays Namora in the movie, says on a recent episode of the “Hablando de Cine con” podcast that she already knew how to swim because she had grown up in Veracruz. After getting the part, though, she says she hired an Olympic trainer in Mexico to teach her “how to live in the water.”

Mabel Cadena on 'Hablando de Cine con' podcast
Mabel Cadena on ‘Hablando de Cine con‘ podcast

“I don’t want a correct technique,” Cadena says she told her trainer. “I want to feel that I live in the water.”

Cadena and the other actors who needed to do breath holds trained with Colombian national record holder Alex Llinas, an instructor with Freediving Instructors International, who did the majority of the training. The other instructors were stunt coordinator Chris Denison, Mike Avery and Alex Krim. They all taught a mixture of the FII and PFI curriculums.

After her freediving training in the US, Cadena was able to do a six-and-a-half-minute breath hold.

“My coach Chris would tell me, ‘Meh Kate Winslet held her breath [for 7 mins 14 seconds].’ My ego was hurt because I didn’t break it due to filming starting,” she says with a chuckle.

Each actor had a safety diver nearby at all times, she says.

The freediving training “gives you mental strength so you know that when you’re doing a scene, you can take your body to the limit,” she says. “Because the reality is, the first thing they teach you is how to deal with the urge to breathe. You have to blindly trust in those people because your life is on the line.”

Mabel Cadena underwater (Image credit: Disney/Marvel Studios)
Mabel Cadena underwater (Image credit: Disney/Marvel Studios)

Breath holds were also important due to the costumes the actors were wearing underwater, according to Cadena.

“You do a scene — two minutes, one minute, three minutes — but with your costume it takes another minute to surface. Coming back to the surface was the hardest part due to the costume.”

Check out the full podcast interview (in Spanish) here.

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: Wakanda Forever | Official Trailer

John Liang
John Liang
John Liang is the News Editor at He first got the diving bug while in High School in Cairo, Egypt, where he earned his PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Red Sea off the Sinai Peninsula. Since then, John has dived in a volcanic lake in Guatemala, among white-tipped sharks off the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica, and other places including a pool in Las Vegas helping to break the world record for the largest underwater press conference.