I was invited on an all expense paid trip by Disney to attend the Red Carpet Black Panther World Premiere. I hope you enjoy my interview with Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright.
There are interviews, and then there are INTERVIEWS. My interview with Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright was such an INTERVIEW! Their energy in the room was incredible – their connection undeniable, they were right in step with each other. So down to earth and amazing – Letitia, who plays Shuri, came right in talking about how she had to take her heels off because it was just too much – I don’t blame her, I’m not a heels kind of gal either. Sneakers are definitely more my thing, and I wouldn’t mind a pair of dope sneakers like the ones her character creates for the Black Panther in the movie. Her costumes were incredible, and she jumped right into the interview talking about them – did I mention she’s a scene stealer?
Interview with Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright
Letitia wanted to grab loads of those outfits from the set and Daniel reminded her about the coat she wore in Oakland. Daniel, who you might recognize from his latest movie Get Out, and Letitia were in agreement that the costume department run by Ruth Carter was simply AMAZING. But she didn’t feel that way in the beginning.
I didn’t like dresses to begin, not that I hated them, just that I wasn’t really super girly when I started Black Panther. And then she (Ruth) would like bring me into a fitting and fit dresses on me and she’s like, ‘we’re gonna fit it to your body,’ and then I’d be like, ‘damn’. And then you see the tribe stuff and Chad’s stuff and everybody across the board looked dope. – Letitia
Although Letitia is a scene stealer, even at the start of the interview, she paused to officially introduce her co-star as “…the amazing Daniel Kaluuya.”
Letitia talks hairstyles and the process of their design…
The hairstyles of Letitia, as well as other cast members, were more modern and up to date than some had expected. To which Letitia gave full credit to Nikki Wright saying that she had created pretty much all the styles used on set.
“So, they (Ryan, and Camille – the head of the hair department) all settled on braids, which I never had prior to that. Then Nikki would come in and be like, ‘what are you wearing?’ and she would see the roughs of pictures from Ruth and she would start designing on my head. Then we would go and show Ryan and he would love it.
In the first scene we tried on this outfit that Ruth created with the cape and the silver skirt. I put my braids into two separate buns just for fun, and Ryan was filming in the throne room and in between takes you have to go do a show and tell. I went and he was just like, ‘oh man this outfits dope’ and he loved it. Then he says, ‘is that how your hair’s gonna be?’ And I’m just like, ‘no, no, no, no, no, we’re gonna plan something,’ and he says, ‘no, it feels like princess Lea.’ So I went to Nikki, I was like, ‘I think he likes it,’ and Nikki says, ‘cool, gonna refine it.’ All those things are literally just people coming with ideas and Nikki as well just literally sleeping on it and coming in the morning saying, ‘I got something.’ Even like the hero look for the gauntlets, she created that, she did that. And I don’t know, the team was just sick (slang for awesome) and now it’s on the face of dolls.” – Letitia
Daniel let us in on what the preparation for the movie was like from a physical aspect and training…
We did a lot of sword training. We were in the black, we had the Dora Milaje, we had so much sword training. I had to start from scratch. I think what was amazing was that everyone had to have their own fighting style. Even like with the hairstyle, everyone’s hairstyle is different and the whole kind of different styles within the community. Everyone had their own fighting style that reflects their character. W’Kabi (played by Daniel) is more like a fierce, ruthless. That’s why when he says, ‘oh, I want to go on a mission,’ T’Challa says, ‘no, you can’t go on a mission’ because W’Kabi is too hood and scarred up. We kind of learned based off certain styles that were in the African community in Africa to have a hybrid of all these styles and we just worked in all these fights that we were working with.
It was a long, long process of finding. We would have a run of certain fights and then we go on set and then we go, ‘okay what have you learned? What have you got? What pieces have you got?’ And it was completely creative and in the moment and kind of on the fly and we just did that. That’s why this film is amazing. We just have a well of knowledge and a well of training over those few months before hand that we can draw from.
Although Wakanda is considered the most technologically advanced country in the world, neither Daniel nor Letitia use social media accounts like many other actors. In fact, Letitia laughs about how Daniel is “ghost on social.” But it’s not because they aren’t social people. Letitia considers herself to be only “semi-ghost” and she wants to have a social profile but doesn’t want to deal with anyone pretending to be her – which is what happened to Daniel for about a year. Letitia did set up a Twitter account and put a few pictures up so that people would know that it’s her. I’ve seen a few, like here and there. They don’t really follow social media the way we do because back home in London actors that are from London she finds don’t have that type of world back home. They aren’t super into social media to see what’s going on or looking for reactions, or results of what people think of their work, they just do the work and hide.
Letitia gave an example of her friendship with Daniel…“he’s been my brother for years. I’ve known this guy for a long time and he’s a champ. I would go to his theater show, he would come up, he’d be like, ‘Tish, it’s mad.’, then he’d say, ‘where have you been?’, ‘I’ve been ghost.’ And he comes like two months or five months later and then he’s in Get Out and then you’re like, ‘okay, cool.’ Alright, where you? And he’s like, ‘oh, Tish it’s mad.’ And it’s like, ‘where you been?’, ‘Gonna be on Panther, I’ll see you there.”
“Back home, we’re secretive, do the work and bounce. When stuff like that happens I take a long time to go on and see what people are talking about. I don’t go online every day and be like, ‘let me go and immediately find it’, more like bit by bit, ‘okay, cool, Drake knows about who I am.”
Daniel jumped in to further explain his reasons for not being socially active or looking for film reactions… “We do the work because we want to connect with people, we want to empower the people and we just want the people to have that. Just as I see it with Get Out, it’s ours in the process and then it comes out and it’s yours and it’s whatever you want it to be. This no longer my film anymore, it’s whatever you guys think about it. Whatever your experience your bringing to it and it’s like that’s what it’s about for me and then sometimes you get a little few instances – but people talk about you like you’re not you. Then your in your phone, so you can’t even text.”
Laughter on the set…Daniel raves about how cool and funny Letitia is…
It was down to the writing, the writing was so good and then also going home and really just studying the script. I would find myself coming up with stuff like, ‘she would say that,’ like, ‘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 trying to be honest. – Letitia
What does Daniel think about Killmonger as a villian in the Black Panther? You’ll have to check back for an update after the film releases in theatres on February 16th to find out!
Black Panther Wakanda Revealed Featurette
BLACK PANTHER stars Chadwick Boseman, Michael B. Jordan, Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Daniel Kaluuya, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, with Angela Bassett, with Forest Whitaker, and Andy Serkis. The film is directed by Ryan Coogler and produced by Kevin Feige with Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Nate Moore, Jeffrey Chernov and Stan Lee serving as executive producers. Ryan Coogler & Joe Robert Cole wrote the screenplay.
Join the conversation online with fans around the world talking about #BlackPantherEvent and the Black Panther World Premiere! Be sure to share this Interview with Daniel Kaluuya and Letitia Wright with your friends!