Letitia Wright: Secret Donald Glover Project, Spelling Bees and More Things Left Out of Hollywood Reporter's Cover Story
The 'Atlanta' creator's mystery-shrouded production, 'Guava Island,' in which she's supposedly appearing, was just one of a number of subjects — including the 'Beautiful Boy' soundtrack — that didn't make it into THR's Next Gen cover story.
At just 25 years old, Letitia Wright has experienced the sort of incredible highs (one she's surfing right now off the back of Black Panther and her Emmy nomination for Black Mirror) and crippling lows that many actors would struggle to fit into a lifetime. For The Hollywood Reporter's Next Gen cover story, she spoke about her phenomenal rise from a plucky London teen to Marvel breakout, and the depression and defeat she experienced along the way. But not everything she had to say found it's way into that profile. Here are some of the other stories that illuminate the Guyana-born Brit's journey to stardom.
1. It was a spelling bee champion who inspired her to become an actress.
OK, a fictional one. Having fallen in love with movies and been praised for school stage performances (notably when she played Rosa Parks), Wright was convinced by the acclaimed 2006 film drama Akeelah and the Bee that she could actually choose acting as a profession. In Keke Palmer’s title character — an 11-year-old competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee — she saw herself. "She looked like me, she was positive, she just wanted to contribute," Wright says. "It did a lot for me. It resonated. It’s one of the reasons why I'm here."
2. She gets mobbed more in the U.S. than at home in the U.K.
Right before her Next Gen photo shoot and interview, Wright was mobbed on the streets of London by a group of Black Panther-loving Israeli tourists. While she admits that this is becoming something of a "common occurrence," she says it's more likely to happen in the U.S. In the U.K., she's able to dodge selfie-hunting Princess Shuri fans with a very new acquisition. "I have a car now!" Naturally, she recently passed her driving test Shuri-style: first time.
3. She wants to find her own Lady Bird.
Having made her name in one of the biggest studio blockbusters of all time, Wright is now keen to expand her indie credentials. And she cites recent titles Lady Bird and Beautiful Boy (and, looking further back, Juno) as the sort of projects she'd like to get involved in. In fact, the Beautiful Boy soundtrack — particularly the track "Treasure" by Sampha — helped get her going on the Next Gen photo shoot. "When it came on, they were suddenly like, 'We're getting some great shots! Why didn't we have it on all day!'"
4. She's keen to produce (although her first choice of company name has been taken).
Should the roles she's looking for not "fall in my lap," Wright says she's eager to get involved in producing in order to create them for herself. "There are a few good ideas that I've had," she says, adding that she's planning to study the art of producing on set. "I'm [there] to watch and ask lots of questions. I'm going to be really annoying." Sadly, the name she wanted for her banner has been taken. "I wanted something like City on a Hill, which is a reference to a scripture in the Bible that I love. But that's gone. And they’re using it, too!"
5. She can't possibly tell you about Rihanna and Donald Glover's Guava Island.
Is it a movie? Is it a music video? The super-secret collaboration between two of the hottest names in the entertainment world — directed by Hiro Murai, the helmer behind Glover’s "This Is America" video, and reportedly shot in Cuba — looks likely to remain shrouded in mystery until it's officially unveiled. One person who could offer a few clues is Wright, listed alongside Glover and Rihanna in the cast. But it's not worth asking. "I can't tell you anything," she says with a smile. "I don’t even know ... what is Guava Island? I have no clue. I don’t know anything. I don't even know where they got my name from!"