"Black Panther" is zooming toward an inevitably, huge opening this weekend, and one of the brightest stars contributing to that success is breakout star Letitia Wright. Wright plays Shuri, the technological wizard who develops Wakanda's incredible high-tech gadgets who also happens to be sister of the title character. So before you see the movie, get to know Wright before everyone starts talking about her.
Wright, 24, was born in Guyana, but moved to London when she was 7. She was inspired to act after seeing the 2006 film "Akeelah and the Bee," which she saw as a rare, positive representation of black people on screen. "If it's a character with flaws, great, but not just negative stigma all the time. We need to change things here," she told The Guardian
Wright's acting career first took off on British TV starting with roles on the long-running medical drama "Holby City" and the crime drama "Top Boy" in 2011. Other TV roles since then include episodes of "Doctor Who," "Humans," and the LGBT-focused dramas "Cucumber" and "Banana."
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Wright's first major film role was in Michael Caton-Jones's film "Urban Hymn" from 2015, as a teenager with a beautiful singing voice who pursues music as a way of escaping her troubled home life. At the time, Caton-Jones told The Guardian
"I've not felt like this about someone since Leonardo" (DiCaprio, who Caton-Jones directed in 1993's "This Boy's Life").
"I've had plenty of really good actors, but I just go on my instinct," Caton-Jones said. "My instinct is she can be as big as she wants. Letitia is just gobsmackingly brilliant. The camera loves her. She has an emotional honesty."
In between film roles, Wright starred in the West End production of "Eclipsed," a play written by her eventual "Black Panther" co-star Danai Gurira. Wright plays one of several Liberian women, stripped of their names and identities, living within the compound of a military leader fighting a rebellion against the Liberian president. Notably, in the Broadway production of "Eclipsed" Wright's role was played by another future "Black Panther" co-star, Lupita Nyong'o.
Wright is also openly religious, sharing her faith on social media and in interviews. She recently took a seven month hiatus from acting and even stepped away from a movie role opposite Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning, to focus on her faith. I remember God was like, to me, Give up the job," she told Vanity Fair
in 2017. "I can give you more than that; I just need you right now. Give up the job."
When she resumed acting, Wright landed a part on the sci-fi series "Humans," playing a human teen who belongs to a subgroup of people who like to emulate and pretend to be synths (the show's term for androids).
Wright was also the star of "Black Museum," the mindbending fourth season finale of "Black Mirror." The fan-favorite episode, loaded with callbacks to previous episodes in the series, sees Wright as a revenge-driven young woman who finally confronts the man who killed and tortured her father.
Wright has a deep connection with her "Black Panther" cast. She told Variety
that it felt "ordained" that she would one day play Chadwick Boseman's sister in a film. "I really, really feel like this is just a God thing," Wright said. "Even before I met him, I knew that he was going to play my brother. I just knew that we would connect because of the type of actor he is as well. He's a person of the spirit, a like soul. Very grounded, down-to-earth, humble."
Wright told Vanity Fair
that she, Gurira and Nyong'o would get into rap battles on set, and she would always win. She also has some ideas about the future of her Marvel character Shuri (she'll appear in "Avengers: Infinity War"). She imagined a scenario in which she teases Peter Parker and Tony Stark for their outdated tech and even plots to improve the Iron Man suit behind Tony's back.
Wright's next role will be as Reb in Steven Spielberg's adaptation of "Ready Player One." "He's a master at what he does, and he's a normal person. He just wants to get a good film going." Wright said in an interview