5 inspiring facts about Marvel's 'Black Panther' actress Letitia Wright, winner of the 2019 Bafta EE Rising Star Award

5 inspiring facts about Marvel's 'Black Panther' actress Letitia Wright, winner of the 2019 Bafta EE Rising Star Award

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Letitia Wright plays scene-stealing Shuri in Marvel's Black Panther.
Photo: Marvel Studios-Walt Disney

Letitia Wright, 25, won the 2019 EE Rising Star Award at the 72nd British Academy Film Awards (Bafta) earlier this week, and just like Marvel's fiesty Wakandan princess Shuri, who Wright is most well known for, her rise to fame and prominence took a lot of hard work and sass. Here are five things you need to know about Letitia Wright:

1. She wasn't born a Londoner!

Wright was born in Guyana, a tiny country in South America with a population of barely over half a million, and moved to London with her family when she was little. Wright once told W Magazine that, seeing Keke Palmer in Akeelah and the Bee inspired her to become an actress, and she started taking acting lessons at London’s Identity School of Acting.

2. She took control of her own destiny

The entertainment industry is notoriously hard to break into, especially when you don't have the help of parents who are also in the industry or an agent who can help you navigate it; and Wright did not. Wright told W Magazine that she didn’t even have the money to hire a photographer to take her head shot, let alone hire an agent. However, at the age of 15 she decided she needed an agent and she needed to make that happen herself, so she started sending out emails to all of the biggest agencies in the UK. And it worked! She kept going after on in particular,  "until the receptionist got sick of me and was finally like, ‘Okay, just come in.’ I did the reading and got signed on the spot."

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3. She started small and worked her way up

Letitia Wright did not have an easy time breaking into acting.
Photo: AP

While most of us know her as tech genius Shuri from last year’s blockbuster Black Panther, she’s far from an overnight success. According to The Wrap, Wright paid her dues playing small roles and guest-starred on TV shows during her late teens. In recent years, she’s also appeared on hit TV shows such as Dr. WhoHumans, as well as Steven Spielberg’s film Ready Player One (2018). Her next film, Avengers: Endgame, possibly the most highly anticipage movie of 2019, is due for release in April.

4. She’s here to challenge the status quo
Despite the fact there are more and more films featuring women and women of colour as their lead, Wright feels there’s still a lot more that can be done. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Wright shared that whenever a casting director offers her a supporting role, she would always ask to read for the lead role. Moreover, Wright is very selective when choosing which roles to play, and she only accepts multi-dimensional roles that don’t encourage stereotypes.

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5. Her struggle with depression and anxiety

In her emotional acceptance speech at the Bafta awards last Sunday, she opened up about living with depression, which almost ruined her career.

“A few years ago I saw myself in a deep state of depression and I literally wanted to quit acting,” she told the audience, and confessed she took up bad habits such as smoking and drinking in between acting gigs to “fill the void”. The actress took a break from acting in 2015 and during this hiatus, she became a Christian and Wright thanked God for giving her the strength to return to acting in her speech.

Edited by Heidi Yeung

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