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March 02, 2018

Letitia Wright almost steals 'Black Panther' as his sister, Shuri

The actress hopes to inspire young people about the value of education with her character in the movie

In the sizzling hot "Black Panther" movie, newcomer Letitia Wright plays the hero's sister, Shuri, while almost stealing the show.

Indeed, in a film that is often serious, Wright's Shuri brings a certain amount of sass, swagger and humor.

As she discussed her breakout role, in an exclusive interview with PhillyVoice, Wright wanted to make it clear what she felt about her feelings for her "brother," Chadwick Boseman, who plays the Panther.

"I really, really care about him," said the Guyanese-born, 24-year-old of Boseman. 

"I really love him and am do happy he's the lead. I wouldn't want 'Black Panther' to be anybody else, because he's perfect. He's the perfect lead and the perfect king. So, I'm really happy to be a part of this and to call him my brother – on and offscreen."

As presented in "Panther," Shuri is not only smarter than her brother, but may be the most intelligent and innovative character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe – possibly eclipsing Tony Stark.

Wright said she hopes that her character can inspire many people, families and communities to realize the importance of education, when so many in the U.S. – particularly in the black community – put an emphasis on athletics instead of academics.

"Some young people want to embrace being an athlete and I feel if you are really passionate about that, you should do it – but I also feel there are more people who need to grow up loving science and math."

"We need to find a way to make science and math as exciting for young people as athletics," she continued. 

Being an innovator, being a scientist, being an engineer should not be looked at as nerdy things to do."

"We need for them to think, 'That's cool,' versus, 'That's boring.' So, yeah, hopefully my character can help them eventually be interested in science, technology, engineering and math – and play soccer as well.

"So, yeah, if a kid has immense talent in athletics and they're really passionate about it, they should do it. But I definitely feel education should be encouraged as well," Wright added. 

"Being an innovator, being a scientist, being an engineer should not be looked at as nerdy things to do. So, I hope my character can allow that person that may not think science is cool, to then think it is and inspire them to pursue that path."

For Wright, whose family emigrated to the United Kingdom when she was 7, in part, she says, "because there is not an acting industry back home in Guyana," the opportunity to be in a watershed tentpole film with a cast predominately of African descent is beyond words.

"It feels amazing to be in a film where Angela Bassett plays my mother," Wright said. 

"This film is extremely important because we're going to get to see something that's never been done before and that can inspire a lot of people. I think all of America will see a different culture in a positive way, and that will open doors and is great in and of itself."