Don’t expect any spoilers from Letitia Wright. Whether she’s teaming up with the Avengers or slipping off to join Rihanna on a Donald Glover film set, her secret-keeping game is strong.
After Wright, now 25, locked down the role of Princess Shuri in ‘Black Panther,’ she saw major names like Michael B Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o in the cast.
“It was a little bit scary because I’d never done such a big film before,” she said. (She still keeps in touch with her co-stars: “We try to connect whenever we can.”)
The role powered her into ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ and allowed her to eclipse all other actors to become the top box-office earner in 2018 (thanks also to ‘Ready Player One’ and ‘The Commuter’). Now comes ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ currently playing in the UAE.
As it turns out, the suspense of the Marvel Universe isn’t so different from Glover’s. She met with the star also known as Childish Gambino at the ‘Black Panther’ premiere, which led to the strictly confidential ‘Guava Island,’ starring Glover and Rihanna and recently unveiled at Coachella after months of speculation. (It’s streaming on Amazon.) Was it a movie? A video? Wright wasn’t telling. “We couldn’t even say that Rihanna was attached,” she recalled. “It was very, very secretive.”
Wright, who is British and was born in Guyana, now lists Cuba as one of her favourite places in the world. She even sees an advantage to the spotty Wi-Fi: Tech genius like Princess Shuri or not, you must unplug.
It may be tempting to think that her swift rise has been uncomplicated. No. Before she broke through in ‘Black Panther,’ she almost quit acting because of depression, an experience she spoke about when she collected the Rising Star Award at the Baftas this year. She’s also been open about what keeps her going: God, her family and friends.
As for the future, she will be involved in a mystery (of course), starring in Kenneth Branagh’s ‘Death on the Nile’, based on the Agatha Christie classic.
She’s also headed to space with John Boyega for the sci-fi romance ‘Hold Back the Stars,’ based on the novel by Katie Khan.
In a phone interview days before the release of ‘Avengers: Endgame,’ Wright gave away nothing about the movie while sharing some personal moments. Here are edited excerpts from the conversation.
You did other TV and film work, but your involvement in ‘Black Panther’ was on such a different level. Did you have an idea that it was going to be this huge?
We didn’t know the magnitude of it when we were filming. We knew that it was going to be special, but I don’t think we knew that it was going to be so crazy.
So, now that you’ve been in the Marvel universe, it’s surprising to see you in unexpected roles like Glover’s ‘Guava Island.’ How did that come about?
He came to the ‘Black Panther’ premiere, just watched the film along with everybody else, and he was like, ‘I loved what you did, and I’m going to write something for you.’ I’m just like, ‘OK, I should expect, just because the film is out now, everybody’s going to say they want to work with me.’ But his actually came to fruition.
And what about Rihanna? Did you know her before? Why didn’t she sing in ‘Guava Island’?
No, I didn’t know her before. She’s Guyanese and Bajan, and then just meeting her was fun. She’s just a cool girl, and I just had such a love for her, sisterly love. She picked on me a little bit, like a big sister would do to a little sister. I picked on her.
I loved seeing her work hard every day in scenes I had with her. She would be like: ‘I want to do another take. I didn’t feel that that was truthful.’ She really took it very, very seriously, and I appreciated her for that.
It wasn’t necessary for Rihanna to sing, even though we know that she’s amazing, and she can shut it down, but it was just beautiful to see her play a character and not have to use that aspect of her talent that we know about her worldwide.
You’ve talked about depression and how you considered quitting acting. What kept you motivated to get through that? A: It was definitely my relationship with God. I may have never been in ‘Black Panther’ if I wasn’t able to be rescued out of that.
I think sometimes we can be so discouraged in our lives, and things might not go right or we might genuinely not be happy, but I just shared that because people may think, oh man, you came out of nowhere and you got this huge success and you’re so lucky. And it’s like, no, this was years of tears and hard work, and difficult situations. My relationship with God is very important because that keeps me sane and reminds me of what’s important, and my family and friends and good people around me. Now that I’m in a happy place and more centred, I’m able to share those places in my life that were not so great, so it can help other people, too.
Don’t miss it!
‘Avengers: Endgame’ is now showing across the UAE. ‘Guava Island’ is streaming on Amazon Prime Video.