After its wildly successful launch as the second-highest grossing four-day opening in movie history ($242 million), Marvel Studio’s Black Panther has been all the rave in secular and Christian circles alike.
“Black Panther is a radical film in that it looks at our country racially, culturally, politically, dares to find empathy in both sides, but ultimately insists you can’t ever truly be great if you’re not first good,” author Joshua Pease writes. “It’s a point Christians would do well to consider.”
But even more impressive than its rich plot and box office success is the real-life story behind actress Letitia Wright, who plays T’Challa’s little sister, Shuri. While Wright became a huge hit with the audience and a critical contributor to the film’s success, the role of Shuri is almost one she never got to play after abandoning acting to deepen her relationship with God.
On British talk show This Morning, Wright opened up about the personal journey that left her running from acting into the arms of God, before bouncing into the Hollywood spotlight back stronger than ever:
“I needed to take a break from acting, because I really idolized it. So I came off from it and I went on a journey to discover my relationship with God, and I became a Christian. It really just gave me so much love and light within myself. I felt secure, like I didn’t need validation from anyone else, or from getting a part. My happiness wasn’t dependent on that, it was dependent on my relationship with God.”
The breakout star came to Christ after attending a London actors’ Bible study during a time when she had reached the peak of her depression. Per her declining mental health, Wright knew her reliance on fame and her own achievements was not a sustainable effort. In fact, she became so committed to pursuing God at all costs that she turned down a role alongside Nicole Kidman and Elle Fanning.
Interestingly enough, when she gave up everything and released all control to God, she was handed the biggest opportunity of her entire career.