As “Black Panther,” the Marvel Studios’ superhero movie continues to break records at the box office following its US $242 million opening weekend, evoking pride among blacks globally, many are saluting the performance of two Caribbean-born actors in the movie.
Letitia Wright, 24, plays Shuri, the sister of T’Challa, the prince who becomes ruler of the fictional African kingdom of Wakanda and reigning Black Panther – the country’s masked superhero protector. Shuri is passionate, intelligent, technologically intense and, like the other female characters in “Panther,” well-equipped for intense physical combat.
Wright moved with her family at age 7 to London. Her interest in acting came when she saw ‘Akeelah and the Bee’ and found the lead character to be a positive role model.
Determined to act, she sent emails to different agents about her acting experience until she was picked for small parts. She started out staring in ‘My Brother the Devil’ in 2012, where she was recognized by Screen International as one of its 2012 Stars of Tomorrow. Michael Caton-Jones then cast her in ‘Urban Hymn,’ in 2016, which garnered her attention and Wright was soon cast in the film adaptation of the novel ‘Ready Player One,’ as Reb. Soon, after, she was added to ‘Black Panther’ as part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Winston Duke – Tobagonian
Also being celebrated is Tobago-born Winston Duke, who portrays the powerful leader M’Baku, whose Jabari Tribe lives in far-flung mountains away from urban Wakanda.
Duke, 31, moved with his family to the US at age 9. He attended Yale School of Drama and became friends with fellow student Lupita Nyong’o. Both were members of Yale’s “Folks” club, co-founded by Yale alumnus and fellow “Panther” actor Angela Bassett for student actors of color, according to a Vanity Fair article.
The movie, “Black Panther,” is based on the Marvel comic book series that started in the mid-1960s. The movie also stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o and Danai Gurira.