Woman Crush Wednesday: Letitia Wright
Get to know the actress behind Disney’s newest princess
Personally, I’m still not over Black Panther, and it looks like I’m not alone. The Marvel film’s record-breaking box office run continued into last weekend, where it earned the second-highest second weekend showing ever behind Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Stars Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o are deservedly getting a lot of love for their roles as T’Challa and Nakia, but the character who really stole my heart was Shuri, T’Challa’s ultra-smart, ultra-sassy little sister and Wakanda’s princess.
In a film full of amazing black actors and actresses, Letitia Wright, the 24-year-old actress behind Shuri, is a relative newcomer. But get ready to start seeing more of her— after her breakout performance in Black Panther, her star is sure to keep on growing.
Read on to learn more about Letitia and why we love her!
She was born in the Caribbean, but grew up in the UK.
Letitia was born in Guyana, a country that’s in the South American continent but is usually considered a part of the Caribbean because of its cultural and historical roots. When she was seven years old, she moved with her mother to London, where she grew up in the multicultural neighborhood of Tottenham.
Despite saying that she’ll “always be a north London girl”, Letitia keeps close to her roots. In an interview with Refinery29, she says that her love for acting was fostered by the sense of community she learned from Guyanese culture. And like her Black Panther co-stars, she’s passionate about improving black representation in Hollywood.
She was inspired to start acting because of a film with an African-American protagonist.
The film, Akeelah and the Bee, is a drama about a young black girl who joins and wins the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The movie has been praised for its thoughtful representation of African-American culture, and after watching it, Letitia wanted to go into acting to give more positive role models for black kids. “I wanted to tell stories like that,” she told W Magazine.
Improving representation of black characters and culture has been a strong theme in Letitia’s career, starting from her education — she attended the Identity School of Acting, a groundbreaking all-black drama school. Her passion is highlighted in the very headline of an article from The Guardian, written back in 2015 for the release of Urban Hymn (the film that eventually brought her to the attention of Marvel’s execs).
I want people to say: “She told amazing stories.”
She tried to get an agent based solely on her school plays.
As she told TimeOut London:
I started doing amateur theatre and played Rosa Parks at the age of 12 or 13 [...] I took a horrendous picture in my bathroom, made it black-and-white and sent it to agents all over the UK. Every booker has an email from Letitia Wright at 16 years old.
As you can imagine, she wasn’t very successful — but once she was a student at the Identity School of Acting, she was able to sign on with their affiliated agency.
She got her start in television.
Letitia’s first role was a guest appearance on the BBC medical drama Holby City. In fact, most of her career has been in British television, including her breakout roles in crime drama Top Boy and cult favorite Cucumber.
Since then, she’s had guest roles in bigger shows like Doctor Who. She even starred in the season four finale of Black Mirror, which is what really propelled her to fame.
She’s got bars.
Check out this BTS video of Letitia freestyling (made more awesome by the fact that she’s in her Shuri costume):
And hey, Winston Duke’s not a bad beatboxer either! Here’s another video of them freestyling with the also-amazing Angela Bassett and Danai Gurira:
She’s got more in store.
Aside from reprising her role as Shuri in The Avengers: Infinity War in May (where we’re hoping she’ll team up with fellow supergenius teen Peter Parker), Letitia will also appear in Ready Player One, the Steven Spielberg-directed film adaptation of the cult fave sci-fi novel.
Her character, Reb, isn’t in the book, so we don’t know how big her role will be — but we’re sure that like in Black Panther, Letitia will steal whatever scene she’s in.
Couldn’t get enough of Letitia as Shuri in Black Panther?
Join us in fangirling in the comments section below!
And before you go, here’s a reminder from Letitia to get you through the rest of the week: