Across the nation, Letitia Wright is captivating a starstruck media for her “breakout” role in Black Panther. But few are reporting how the actress almost gave it all up in her effort to seek God first.
The 24-year-old born in Guyana and raised in London plays the character Shuri, the younger teenage sister of T’Challa, or the Black Panther. But before she reached that role, she traveled on a journey of faith – something she’s never kept secret.
On February 16, the day the film hit theaters, she publicly credited God. In a tweet, she asked her followers, “Do you mind if I praise God? Just want to give thanks to God for all of the blessings and all he has done for the @theblackpanther cast & crew!”
Do you mind if I praise God?
Just want to give thanks to God for all of the blessings and all he has done for the @theblackpanther cast & crew! It belongs to you all now! Enjoy enjoy enjoy 💕 #WakandaForever pic.twitter.com/xLkjzvKBZ3
— Letitia Wright (@letitiawright) February 16, 2018
While the media didn’t focus on her faith in Black Panther coverage, they did spotlight her talent. Both The Hollywood Reporter and Los Angeles Times showered praise over the “breakout” star. USA Today heralded her as a “new kind of Disney princess.” She “steals every scene,” according to Bustle. She should be “your new favorite actress,” added Vulture.
In Hollywood, the entertainment industry reacted similarly. After working with her on a 2015 film, director Michael Caton-Jones admitted he hadn’t seen such talent since working with a young Leonardo DiCaprio. And Black Panther director Ryan Coogler called her “the love and light” of his film.
That’s no mistake, according to Letitia.
“I was praying before I came out to L.A. to screen test and I felt really strongly in my spirit, like, this thing about love and light kept popping up,” she revealed of auditioning for Black Panther on Good Morning America, February 15. “And then Ryan kind of confirmed it” when he later used those two words to describe her.
According to Letitia, that love and light entered her when she took a 7-month break from acting to pursue her faith – a break she took even when it meant sacrificing the opportunity to star in a film alongside Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning.
“[S]he found herself in a dark place that prompted some of her Christian friends to ask her to take a chance on God,” added Erika Jarvis for VF. According to The Sydney Morning Herald, that dark place included battling depression, even refusing to eat and interact with others at some points.
“It was very, very bad and I didn’t know a way out,” she told the outlet. That is, until one friend invited her to a group Bible study.
That group helped her realize that “acting is not my god” and that her happiness didn’t depend on her career, but on her relationship with God.
“Ever since then, everything’s just been really, really positive in my life,” she told the newspaper. “I don’t feel those depressive feelings any more. I just feel so free and happy. So yeah, I won’t hide my faith, because it’s helped me so much. God has been my way out.”
In a 2016 interview with Premier Gospel, she provided more details. After attending the Toronto film festival (presumably in 2015 for her film Urban Hymn), she first felt a tug from God. But it wasn’t until after more prompting that she took her seven-month break. She later concluded God wanted her to halt her career as a sign of trust.
“I’m seeking you first,” she said her hiatus meant to God. “And I love you, and I want to know you, and I never want to put anything above you,” especially acting.
At the time, both her UK and U.S. agents expressed confusion about her decision. But, as she explained to an L.A. agent, “I need to spend time with God because, you know, this is where I need to put my heart first.”
When she decided to quit acting altogether, that’s when she heard God tell her “this is your ministry.” And so, she returned.
“Where I go, where he takes me, that’s where I need to spread the love of God,” she said. “Because people’s souls are dying. My soul was dying, and He saved me. So I can’t keep this to myself.”
“I fell in love with Jesus,” she explained, “and I’m still in love. Amen.”
The media often obsess over love stories. Let’s hope they tell this one too.