EXCLUSIVE Interview with Daniel Kaluuya & Letitia Wright #BlackPantherEvent
Interviewing Academy Award Nominee (for his performance in Get Out) Daniel Kaluuya & Letitia Wright was one of the most energetic and fun interviews I have ever done. Letitia Wright’s personality just explodes like a pop bottle that has been shaken vigorously and Daniel’s facial expressions are hilarious, his face tells it all and he is so animated when he talks. The two of them together are a force to be reckoned with. Their interaction off-screen reminds me of the on-screen relationship between Letitia’s character Shuri and her brother T’challa (played by Chadwick Boseman). It’s full of life and lots of laughs. Both are very humble about their contributions to Black Panther as well as the explosive growth that is currently happening in their careers. You wouldn’t think we were sitting with an Academy Award Nominee or the young lady who is the face of the newest Marvel/Disney Princess Shuri.
What kind of things did you guys do to prepare for the movie ’cause it’s very physical for both of you?
Daniel: Well, we did a lot of sword training, we had so much sword training. I had to learn from scratch. I think what was amazing. Everyone had their own fighting style that reflects their character. So, W’Kabi is more like a fierce, ruthless, kind of like bub.
Question for both of you. There’s a lot of deep parts but there’s also a lot of comedy. Was there a scene that you all had to keep reshooting because you just couldn’t control the laughter because
Daniel: She’s cool and funny.
Letitia: You know what I didn’t even expect it. I didn’t go in with thinking that I’m gonna be funny. It t was down to the writing, the writing was so good and then also just going home and really just studying the script. And then I would find myself coming up with stuff like, ‘she would say that,’ ‘she would say that and that’s mighty rude.’ And she took herself so seriously I guess that’s why it’s kind of funny ’cause I just went into it.
Daniel: I think what’s amazing about Letitia’s performance in this film is that she’s honest. And then it’s about love, it’s about love for her brother and you know clown your brothers. You clown your sisters. You know, she’s trying to tell the truth. It comes across and everyone identifies with that. It’s kind of like that playfulness and it’s a laughter from familiarity. So it’s kind of like the best, kind of comedy for me ’cause it’s grounded, it’s just played as for relationship and it’s about love.
Quick Fun Fact about Daniel Kaluuya
He is “ghost” on social media. He doesn’t actually have any social media accounts, but he does periodically check social media channels to see what the latest buzz is about him and his roles. He had a year of someone pretending to be him on social media.
There are so many incredible messages that come out of the film. What is something that you want to make sure that is getting across to the audience and what did you learn from this movie?
Daniel: I don’t know like for me I feel Killmonger’s one of the best villains I’ve seen. ‘Cause like I said it’s how he’s decided to deal with grief. And that has to do with pain, and how you deal with pain really informs how you move forward. And it informs who you are and what you do and the energies and the people that are around you. So, that kind of through feeling like, as black people there’s pain every day you know.
He goes on to say: It’s about joy, it’s about brother and sister, it’s about family, it’s about it’s communities, about nation, it’s about pride, it’s about life.
One of the most important parts of our interview came when we addressed the fact that Letitia Wright who plays the role of Shuri a Wakandan Princess, is now considered one of Disney/Marvel Princesses. She is a strong role model for young ladies, especially young Black Girls. This is huge, to have a “Princess” who doesn’t fall into the traditional Princess role. So we addressed that with Letitia.
I think so many people are just so excited about being represented in a film and so for us, this is just, it’s such an amazing accomplishment. But, you are representing a black princess on film. And you are modernizing in a way that girls I think around the world, and boys too, are gonna be so excited about. Did you even think about approaching this is as like, ‘wow, I’m actually gonna be inspiring people and I’m gonna be a black princess on screen.’?
Letitia: It’s crazy because this film is pretty much years of prayer and your words are powerful man, because this is something I would pray for when I was a teenager just getting into acting, like, whatever I do, I just want to be a vessel to be of inspiration. Doesn’t have to necessarily mean that the character is not flawed or has to be a perfect character but just to inspire. When this opportunity came up, I understood the magnitude of Shuri in the comic books. I understood where her arc is and where her journey is and it’s huge. But, what I had to do was take her, a dose out of like Kendrick’s books (i.e. Kendrick Lamar) and just be humble. And just like ‘okay cool, this is, don’t think like that.’ Don’t let that be what you’re going on, don’t let that overwhelm you. I understood what was gonna be happening, I understood the magnitude of the film, I understood that I’m standing with Daniel, Lupita, Chad, Ryan, like Michael, I understand what was going. I could see what was going on and I could see what would be the result, so what I tried to do was just play, tell the truth and that something can, within myself I always try to do throughout my whole time acting so far. Not been a long time but just telling the truth and then knowing that as long as I do that and I do it to the best of my ability and I am a vessel for that, then hopefully by God’s grace like young people will be inspired. And also that’s down to the writing and down to, just a big collaborative thing withthe writers, the directors and the actors. Just doing that and making it relatable. So I’m the vessel for it, I do it and then if a kid can be like, ‘man I want to do science,’. I’m not trying to force it down your throat, it’s kind of like, I’m just gonna be the vessel and be real. And be like, ‘science is cool, Shuri is cool, she can you know, create stuff and not be looked down upon,’ and just play the truth of that. And then, if it inspires people, then yes. But it was kind of like, going on set to be like, I’m gonna tell the truth today, she’s a scientist, she’s really cool and if you grab something from this, grab it and go.
Daniel chimed in and added: I was gonna say I remember one time you were on the set and then, and it was a War scene. And then Letitia walked by, she was in costume, and this little girl went, ‘aaaaah.’ It was like, you don’t know what’s about to happen.
Letitia responds: Yeah. And no, no, no, this is another thing that, that I will always try to just bring it down to not think about it so much because Daniel would do this thing where he pulled me to the side and be like, ‘you’re, you’re a queen, you know!” It’s just like the emphasis of ‘Tish, you be a vessel for something really beautiful’. And just being able to be like, “bro don’t gas me” [To Daniel]
Quick Fun Fact about Letitia
She is not a fan of dresses, she joked when she walked into the room that she had taken off her Louis Vutton heel before she came into our interview. The hairstyle she rocks in the opening scene started off as a joke, she put her braids in 2 buns just for fun. She went and showed her outfit & hair to Director Ryan Coogler who told her that she needs to keep the style because it was like Princess Leia (Star Wars).
Both Daniel and Letitia feel that the work they do is for the people, it’s to empower the people.
Black Panther is in theaters everywhere February 16, 2018.
Marvel Studios’ BLACK PANTHER follows T’Challa who, after the death of his father, the King of Wakanda, returns home to the isolated, technologically advanced African nation to succeed to the throne and take his rightful place as king. But when a powerful old enemy reappears, T’Challa’s mettle as king—and Black Panther—is tested when he is drawn into a formidable conflict that puts the fate of Wakanda and the entire world at risk. Faced with treachery and danger, the young king must rally his allies and release the full power of Black Panther to defeat his foes and secure the safety of his people and their way of life.
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