Hollywood newcomer Letitia Wright has the distinction of portraying Shuri, the character described by Black Panther producer Nate Moore as being “the smartest person in the world.” Shuri is also described as the “love and the light” of the film by its director, Ryan Coogler. This is a true testament to the acting range of the Guyana-born, London-reared actress who easily entices viewers into believing Shuri’s a “typical” fun-loving teen and mad science genius determined to advance and protect her brother and Wakanda.
The casting of Letitia Wright in Black Panther seems to be a divine convergence destined even before the first scene was shot. While honing her theater chops in London’s West End, she was cast to play a role in the play Eclipsed, which was written by none other than her soon-to-be Panther cast mate Danai. Her other co-star, Lupita Nyong’o, reprised the same role when the play moved to Broadway—adding to what Letitia referred in an interview with Vanity Fair to as a “triangular, crazy connection.’ Crazy or not, the bond between these women, on screen and off, does much to show young girls how powerful true sisterhood can be.
The Black Panther movie, named for the first black comic book superhero (created in 1966 by Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby) is poised to claw its way to the top of the box office February 16 with an Afro-futurist narrative and a cast of high-octane male and female characters.
Black Panther tells the gripping story of T’Challa who, after the death of his father returns home to his technologically advanced African nation to take his rightful place on the throne as the king of Wakanda. Tested by powerful outside forces and a dangerous former enemy, T’Challa and Nakia must fight for the fate of their beloved country and the entire world.
Black Panther is the 18th film to be spawned from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), according to CNNMoney, and the highly anticipated movie has already broken Fandango’s pre-sale ticket record for MCU films within its first 24 hours. Industry experts are projecting that the Ryan Coogler helmed project could open at around $150 million or higher. And according to Variety, a strong box office showing for Black Panther, which cost nearly $200 million to produce, would send a clear message to Hollywood that there’s tremendous opportunity to be found in making more movies targeting diverse audiences and featuring Black casts.
The movie’s megawatt casting, with stars like Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o, Angela Bassett and Michael B. Jordan, and jaw-dropping special effects, are sure to deliver an unforgettable experience for superhero fans.
But before you head to the theater, meet Letitia Wright, who plays one of the key Black Panther characters!
Meet the Character: Shuri
Portrayed by: Letitia Wright, 24
Backstory: Shuri is T’Challa’s 16-year-old half-sister and the princess of Wakanda. Shuri’s mother is Queen Ramonda, the second wife of T’Challa’s father, played by Angela Bassett.
What makes Shuri relevant: This powerhouse is a technological genius. Her innovations result in mind-blowing advances that help set her nation light years ahead of all other countries in the known universe. Her work with Vibranium is especially important to Wakanda’s advancements and the Black Panther’s super powers.
Comics vs. Film: As portrayed in the comics, Shuri takes on the mantle of Black Panther from her half-brother after he’s temporarily left in a comatose state.
Letitia’s thoughts on Shuri: “Shuri [is] someone that doesn’t wear her emotions on her sleeve. She uses that to motivate her to create weapons and protection for her family that’s beyond explanation or beyond comparison because she doesn’t want to have a loss again. So she’s gong to do whatever it takes to protect her family.”
Black Panther claws its way into theaters nationwide February 16!
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