Remember this name: Letitia Wright is Marvel’s latest breakout star.
Wright plays Shuri in Marvel’s Black Panther, and in a stellar cast with plenty of praiseworthy performances, the 24-year-old Wright is being touted as the breakout star. EW’s review called her “effervescent,” noting that her character “could easily hold [her] own [film].”
Read on to find out more about the actress and Wakandan princess whose star is on the rise.
1. Akeelah and the Bee inspired her to act
Wright grew up in Georgetown, Guyana before moving to London when she was 7 years old. In 2006, she saw the film Akeelah and the Bee, starring a young KeKe Palmer as a gifted Spelling Bee contestant, and knew she wanted to become an actor. “I wanted to tell stories like that,” She told W Magazine. “I wanted to be captured in a weird camera thing that records.” Determined to succeed, Wright studied at London’s Identity School of Acting (John Boyega is a fellow alum), which set her on the path toward stardom.
2. You probably saw her on the small screen first
Before becoming Princess of Wakanda, Wright racked up several small-screen credits. She appeared in British shows such as Chasing Shadows, Banana, and Cucumber, as well as the notable Doctor Who season 9 episode “Fear the Raven.” She had a recurring role on the AMC show Humans, and most recently, a standout part in Black Mirror‘s season 4 finale, “Black Museum.”
3. She’s about to become a blockbuster sensation
This has already been a huge year for Wright: She had a role in the Liam Neeson vehicle The Commuter, and then, of course, her star-making performance in Black Panther. And that’s just the beginning; still to come is the hotly anticipated sci-fi Spielberg film Ready Player One in which Wright plays Reb, as well as Avengers: Infinity War in which she’ll reprise the role of Shuri.
4. She’s willing to be open about difficult topics
Wright might be on top now, but she’s been honest talking about the mental health issue that almost derailed her career. At age 20, Wright turned away from acting after dealing with a crippling bout of depression.
Speaking to Vanity Fair, she said, “I was in the dark going through so many bad things, when the world didn’t know about Shuri and Letitia and whatever is happening now.” She’s also been vocal about the role religion played in lifting her spirits and allowing her to once again pursue her passion.
5. She’s the rap queen of Wakanda
Although she’s gracious about sharing her breakout moment with Black Panther‘s incredible cast, there’s one thing for which Wright will take full credit: She’s the reigning champion of the Wakanda rap battles. Throughout the Black Panther press tour, Wright has assured many that she won most of the rap battles the cast had on set.
Castmates Danai Gurira and Lupita Nyong’o confirmed Wright’s talents when the women of Wakanda sat down with EW. “Danai’s raps would be so bad!” Wright laughed. Gurira even tried to beat her by plagiarizing LL Cool J, but ‘fessed up later. “I felt so stupid, I thought I taught her something! I thought I taught her a skill!” Wright said.