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Letitia Wright Is Going To Be A Star

Film

The ‘Black Panther’ actress shares how she plans on staying grounded

It’s hard to write about Black Panther without giving parts of the movie away, but know this: You’ll walk out of the film wanting to know more about Letitia Wright.

The Guyanese-born British actress plays Shuri, the sister to Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa (aka Black Panther), and though she’s not the focal point of the movie, she manages to dominate every scene with her comedic timing and zeal. The movie is about the plight of Black Panther, obviously, but still, one thing is clear: It's the women of Wakanda who run the show. In fact, there would be no Wakanda without Angela Basset’s guidance, Danai Gurira’s warrior skills, or Lupita Nyong’o’s stubborn pride. And there’s definitely no Wakanda without the tech-savvy teenage princess Shuri, who producer Nate Moore has described as being the smartest person in the world—surpassing even Tony Stark and Peter Parker.

Prior to Black Panther, 24-year-old Wright mostly had British film credits to her name. She played the arresting Nish in one of Black Mirror’s best episodes this season, “Black Museum.” Before that, she starred in the indie film Urban Hymn, acted in the London play “Eclipsed” which was actually written by Black Panther co-star Gurira, and appeared in a handful of U.K. shows including Cucumber, Banana, and Humans. But Wright almost walked away from acting before her career took off. At 20, she took a break—even passing up a movie with Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning—after suffering from severe depression. Christianity and her love of God helped, she says, pick up where she left off in 2015, setting the groundwork for landing a role in one of the biggest films of the year.

You’ve probably already heard a lot about Black Panther, and that’s because it’s really, really good. It’s a thrilling, dazzling, marvel of a film that centers the black experience. It broke the Marvel record for most pre-sale tickets sold, has a 98 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and is on track for a wild $165 million opening weekend U.S. debut. But what’s Wright doing to prepare for her impending stardom? Stepping away from the spotlight. “As soon as it’s out, I’m gonna disappear from everything for a while just to take things in,” she tells us. We’ll see her again soon enough, though, in The Commuter alongside Liam Neeson, Ready Player One, and Avengers: Infinity War, all out later this year.

Hopefully, we’ll also see her at the forefront of her own feature film. In the comic books, Shuri succeeds her older brother and becomes the next Black Panther. When asked whether we could expect a Shuri movie, Wright says, “If that’s a conversation that happens, it would be really, really cool.” For now, though, she’s awaiting the news of whether we’re getting a Black Panther 2. Once that happens, we wouldn't be surprised if a Shuri movie is next in line.

Ahead, we speak to Wright about how her personality overlaps with Shuri, why a movie like Black Panther is so important, and how she’s staying grounded.

How do you prepare for a role like Shuri, who's a fun, light-hearted character, versus someone more serious, like your character in Black Mirror?
They're two different stories, and they cause you to be in different mindsets. I feel like Shuri is serious about proving herself. So, I had to bring my own personality to it, because I would just be bouncing around on set, and picking on people, or picking on Michael B., so [Ryan] wanted some of that inside of Shuri as well. Like, people love the technology and medicine and engineering and all that stuff, but that's not me, that's all Shuri. I was able to add positivity to her, though, which is naturally in my own self—I try to be as positive as possible.

In comparison, some of the stuff that Nish has gone through, I've never gone through before. But I can take myself to that place where I can understand what she's about and why she feels those emotions. So, it varies, really. It's just pretty much trying to aim to tell the truth of each story.

Are you tech-savvy at all?
No, I'm not. There was a lot of cool technology during my time of doing the film, I researched a lot about it. There's a lot of things I want to get into a bit more, but, as of now, I’m good with the iPhone and my MacBook. As long as I can access Netflix, I think I'll be alright.

I didn't make this connection, but I read somewhere that Shuri is technically a Disney princess since Marvel is owned by Disney. Did you think about that when you were taking on the role? 
No! You can't think about those things or you won't get your job done. I'd probably be freaking out, like, "Oh my god, I'm a Disney princess!" So, if that's the truth, and Shuri is considered a Disney princess—because she is the princess of Wakanda—I guess that is very cool, and I hope that a lot of young girls can be inspired to like technology and stuff.

You've said that the film Akeelah and the Bee helped inspire you to pursue an acting career; what would it have been like for you to see a movie like Black Panther as a child? 
I think it would've been a wrap. Meaning, I would have been so confident—I would've walked like a queen, in probably primary school and nursery school. It would've definitely allowed me to see myself in a different way and have a little more confidence in myself. Yeah, it would've definitely inspired me a lot. I hope that's the same thing for young people right now that, when they see it, it really just takes them to another level of being inspired, and that bleeds into them figuring out their passions in life.

It’s an important film for everyone, but especially for the younger generation. 
It’s for everyone, no matter what your color is. Obviously, it's showing Africa in a different way, and that's something to definitely be proud of. Like, we're not gonna downplay that. But we definitely want everybody to go and have this experience because the story—the themes in the story—are so universal. It's not just about an African superhero running around in Korea or around the world, trying to help out. It's definitely got subject matters and characters that everybody can relate to.

Do you think you're prepared for the inevitable fame you're going to receive after the film comes out? Are you doing anything to prepare?
I guess I'm just really praying a lot and making sure I’m in a headspace where I'm really listening to where God wants me to go next. Also, really just staying close to my family. Being a bit more closed off, I guess, being a bit more reserved and really remembering that I came into this to tell stories and let that stay the reason why I'm doing it. And to not let the new wave of attention get to me, or make me feel anxious. Because, really, this movie is just what I've been doing all along, I've just been telling stories. It's just that this character is being recognized more than the other characters I've played. And it just means that more people are gonna watch my projects in the future.

So, yeah, I'm praying, I'm staying close to my family, my friends, and really remembering why I got into this in the first place. So that, when everything quiets down, I'm not like, "Oh my god, the attention is gone on and nobody…" Like, no, because I wasn't chasing that in the first place. I want it to just be like, "Okay, cool, next project. What's the next story I'm meant to be a vessel for?" I feel like that will keep me very grounded.

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Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Well, actually it's crocodile, but she looks out of this world so...

Winnie Harlow walked the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday on her way to a screening of Oh Mercy!, wearing a showstopping gown.

The sheer black dress featured green embroidery on the front and back, which Ralph and Russo confirmed was in the shape of a crocodile. She belted the dress with a black crocodile skin-like belt and finished the look off with some strappy heels. She didn't leave it at just that. For beauty, Harlow packed on full lids of sparkly purple eyeshadow. She kept her hair sleek and simple.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Though the brand says otherwise, as Game of Thrones fans, we'd like to think the embroidery is reminiscent of a dragon's skin. Not to mention, Harlow looks out-of-this-world beautiful in it.

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Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

That denim kimono!!

Marion Cotillard shut down the Cannes red carpet on Wednesday at a screening for Matthias Et Maxime. Instead of an extravagant gown that's expected of the event, Cotillard wore a matching black crop top and shorts. Despite wearing an outfit I typically don to a hot yoga class, she looks incredible. She completed the look with an oversized denim kimono, a statement necklace, and heeled booties.

Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images

At first, I was drawn in by the crop top and hotpants duo, but, after looking closer at the kimono, it's clear that it's the real scene-stealer. The floor-length Balmain piece was decorated with artful rips and dragon motifs. I would like to live in it.

Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images

Let's all bow down to the Khaleesi of Cannes.

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Photo by Frazer Harrison / Getty Images.

"It doesn't make you weak to ask for help"

Singer Billie Eilish is continuing to open up about mental health, this time in a new PSA video in partnership with the Ad Council and Seize the Awkward.

In the video, Eilish insists that "it doesn't make you weak to ask for help." She doubles down on the importance of asking for help, and stresses the importance of friends and family being there when their close ones reach out and checking in on them as well. "You should be able to ask anyone for help, everyone has to help someone if they need it." According to Eilish, there have been times when someone reached out to her at the exact moment she needed it, and it helped.

It was particularly refreshing to see Eilish acknowledge that there are things she still doesn't know and has to learn about her mental health. At the very beginning of the video, the interviewer asks her to reflect on her mental health journey, and all Eilish can do is let out chortle. "I think when people hear, 'Remember to take care of your mental health,' they think that everyone else is, and that is not at all accurate," she admitted. "You know, for me I'm trying to learn still to make sure that I stay okay."

Check out the PSA below.

Billie Eilish On Mental Health & Friendship | Ad Council www.youtube.com

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Photograph via @kimkardashian.

"#NotOnMyMoodBoard"

Kim Kardashian has definitely been accused of borrowing a design now and then. But when Instagram influencer and Kardashian look-alike Kamilla Osman claimed the entrepreneur copied her birthday look for a Met Gala after-party, Kardashian was not going to let it fly—and shared plenty of photo evidence to shut down the claim.

Fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada first noticed Osman's claims on Instagram and shared side-by-side images of Kardashian's Cher-inspired outfit designed by Mugler and Osman's dress. "Never get confused with who 'inspires' who. They won't give you credit but they will copy," Osman wrote on her IG story. "I designed this dress for my birthday last year. Nobody had a dress like this was an original design."

Kardashian responded by posting the true inspiration behind her look: images of Cher, in similarly sparkly, plunging-neckline dresses and wigs, and of model Yasmeen Ghauri walking a Mugler show in the '90s. In fact, the only similarity between Osman's and Kardashian's looks is the bodycon mini-dress style, which the two are not the first to wear. Among the images, Kardashian included a blank slide with the hashtag "NotOnMyMoodBoard," making it clear that this was in response to Osman's claims.

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Screenshot via @KimKardashian Instagram Stories

Though I am with Kim on this one, Kardashian does have a history of co-opting other people's work. From being sued over her Kimoji app, to claims she copied makeup palettes and perfume bottle designs, to being accused of copying Naomi Campbell's entire style, it's far from the first (and probably, far from the last) time Kardashian's name will be mentioned like this.

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After delivered the perfect pep talk

When Lena Waithe took over as a guest host on Jimmy Kimmel Live, her first time ever as a late-night host, actress and friend Halle Berry knew exactly how to pump her up. After Kimmel's security guard Guillermo Rodriguez hit the "Berry Button" (a large button on the wall that says just that), Berry came running out in a backless tee and boyfriend jeans to give Waithe a pep talk... and plant one on her.

Berry rolled in as if she'd just jogged from hanging out with her friends to come to Waithe's immediate aid, joking she wasn't dressed for the occasion; but, let's be real, she could wear a paper bag, and we wouldn't complain. Waithe requested the "Halle Berry juice," similar to her 2002 Oscars speech, and Berry immediately had the lights turned down low and jumped into inspirational speech mode.

"I know that you are a force of nature. You are a beautiful African-American queen going after everything that is hers," Berry said before going on to list Waithe's many titles and accomplishments. She jokingly concluded, "And you already winning, girl, 'cause you are dressed way better than Jimmy ever will," before asking if Waithe needed anything else. Clearly, Waithe thought that was all Berry was there to do, because she said no, but Berry insisted she needed one more thing before grabbing Waithe's face and surprising her with a kiss. "Wow," Waithe reacted after Berry pulled away, and honestly same!

Watch the video, below.

Lena Waithe's Guest Host Monologue on Jimmy Kimmel Live youtu.be

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