05 November 2021

Call of Duty: Vanguard introduces first black protagonist based on real-life WWII soldier Sidney Cornell

05 November 2021

Call of Duty marks an exciting milestone today with the latest instalment featuring the first Black protagonist in the franchise’s 18-game history

Call of Duty: Vanguard is officially out now and shines a light on Sergeant Sidney Cornell, a real-life Black British paratrooper who was instrumental in the Allies’ Normandy campaign.

He has been used as a basis for British special forces officer Arthur Kingsley, voiced by British Nigerian actor, Chiké Okonkwo, 39.

The campaign begins near the end of WWII with the Nazis defeated and in disarray. There is a secret plot to see the Third Reich live on and Kingsley must lead a squadron of diverse operatives to put a stop to it.

Although the story itself is largely made up, like Kingsley, the members of his unit are either based on real historical figures, or an amalgamation.

Speaking about bringing his take on Sidney Cornell - of whom little information is known as is sadly the case with many war heroes of colour - to the game, he told Newsweek: “From what little information there is out there about [Cornell], you can tell that he was just this incredible person with an incredible story. He kept on going in the face of such adversity and peril, succeeding in all his missions.

“It’s honestly such a privilege to get to bring that to life in this game. To understand the bravery that took and to understand the leadership that he had hoisted upon him. It was such an honour and I carried him with me in every scene.

“He managed to become a Sergeant at a time when there were not that many high-ranking posts for Black men, regardless of their talents or background.”

He continued: “I think it’s important that in 2021, Call of Duty has taken this bold move to give their very passionate audience a fresh perspective on history. It was the main factor in getting me signed on to the game. When I heard about the story they wanted to tell, I knew that it was my opportunity to be in Pearl Harbour, to be in Saving Private Ryan and to have the camera focussed squarely on a British man of African descent.”

Call of Duty: Vanguard is available now for PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One and Xbox Series X/S.

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