Actress Letitia Wright had to keep her role in the new Black Panther blockbuster a secret from her own mother until the news of her casting leaked online.
The Hollywood newcomer portrays technical whizz Shuri, princess of Wakanda and younger sister of King T’Challa, played by Chadwick Boseman, who transforms into the titular superhero.
Letitia had to travel back and forth from her family home in the U.K. to the U.S. to work on the Marvel comic book movie, but the level of secrecy surrounding the project meant the 24-year-old couldn’t share any details of her big gig with her loved ones.
“I kept rolling out of my house, black cars kept picking me up, and my mum’s like, ‘Where are you going?’,” she recalled of the “interesting” experience. “I’m just like, ‘I’m going to America to film something, to audition for something,’ and I could never say what.”
Eventually, the rumors about her casting made industry headlines, but when she broke the news to her mum, her reaction wasn’t quite what Letitia had imagined – because she had no idea what Black Panther was.
“The day it kinda got leaked on the Internet, I was like, ‘Mum, I can tell you what I’ve been going up for! It’s Black Panther!’, and she’s like, ‘The civil rights movement?’,” the actress laughed on breakfast show Good Morning America. “‘Er, no. It’s a Marvel film, it’s a superhero film.’ She’s like, ‘Like Spider-Man?’ And I was like, ‘Mum, forget it, forget it.'”
Letitia’s loved ones have since been able to see what she had been keeping under wraps for so long, and now her mum is raving about the film.
“She’s seen it and she loves it,” the rising star smiled.
Meanwhile, Letitia hopes bright, young kids will be inspired by her character, who designs new technology for the fictional African country.
“I feel like a lot of young girls, no matter what your age may be, no matter what your color, you can really find positivity and light and love in Shuri that you can hold on to,” she said. “It can influence a young person who is super smart at school, and maybe someone’s calling them a nerd, maybe someone’s telling them they’re a teacher’s pet, and then maybe they can look at his film and see Shuri, who loves to use her mind as a weapon to help her nation and to be so smart to create gadgets that can change the world, and that can be an inspiration to them to say, ‘No, I am smart, I am intelligent. I’m not a nerd, I’m a world changer,’ and they can move forward.”
Black Panther, which was directed by Ryan Coogler, also stars Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Daniel Kaluuya, Sterling K. Brown, Angela Bassett, and Forest Whitaker.