‘Black Panther’ star Letitia Wright on the critical role of Shuri

You’ll be excused (at least for the next few days) if you don’t know the name Letitia Wright.
But with “Black Panther” hitting theaters on Friday, the 24-year-old Guyana-born British actress will be getting a lot of attention for her scene-stealing turn as Shuri, the teenage sister of T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman).
In James Bond terms, Shuri is like Q, the genius device maker for the spy. Shuri is a genius — her technological advances seem to rival even Tony Stark’s and are amazing and on full display in the film.
“I think Shuri is an amazing person,” Wright says. “She’s just a young teenager who is very ardent about her work, very ardent about technology. . . . I love Shuri. If I could be Shuri in real life I would. . . . She’s the future of Wakanda, so yeah, she’s a very essential part.”
Essential, indeed. She plays a critical role in the film, not just for her engineer prowess, but also with her physical skills — you get to look her throw down for assured — and she’s also incredibly funny and passionate. A great role model all round.
amNewYork spoke with Wright about the film.
What’s Shuri’s place in the greater Marvel Cinematic Universe? I saw that you’ll also be in the next Marvel movie, “Avengers: Infinity War,” coming out in May.
She’s the princess of Wakanda and T’Challa’s sister. Her place in the universe is just kind of, I don’t know, she’s just another component of the puzzle of the whole Marvel [Cinematic Universe]. And wherever she can assist out, she will.
She has a lot of gadgets. Did you have a favorite?
I like her gauntlets because they let off steam. It will definitely be a form of protection, if I can take them.
Shuri was first introduced in the comics in 2005. What was your knowledge before you came into this?
I didn’t look completely into the comic books because I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by her journey, because her journey is very big. I learned what I needed to learn from the script that [director] Ryan [Coogler] wrote with Joe [Robert Cole]. And I took that on board and I just worked on the character throughout the procedure.
This film is packed with some amazing actors. What did you learn from them?
I learned a lot. They’re really down-to-earth people as well, so I learned just to learn, [and] to make sure when you have a level of success that you remain humble as well. Angela [Bassett] was a great example because she’s so amazing as an actor but also as a person as well. And I just really loved spending time with her because she really reminded me of the importance of staying true to myself and staying grounded and treating people in the right way.
‘Black Panther’
4 stars: “Black Panther” is a movie that we need now more than ever. A film packed with heroes, strong role models and a critical social message.
And, on top of that, it’s fun as hell — an action-packed adventure with impressive stunts, great battle scenes, awesome gadgets and a great sense of humor.

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