After leaving local shores more than 20 years ago, Guyanese-born British actress Letitia Wright, who is currently reeling in from the success of the blockbuster Black Panther franchise, returned to her homeland on Friday.
Wright, who hailed from Goed Intent, West Bank Demerara, left Guyana with her mother at the age of eight and moved to England. She landed at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) in Timehri to a grand welcome on Friday evening.
The actress was received by Tourism Minister, Oneidge Walrond, along with close family and relatives – including her father and grandmother – at the CJIA, where a homecoming programme was organised in her honour. Fans, including passengers and airport staff, were all ecstatic to get a glimpse of the movie star.
In expressing her gratitude for the warm reception, an emotional Wright recalled living in Guyana before migrating to the United Kingdom.
“I said bye to my friends and I came to the airport with my family.”
Wright shared that after checking in, she and her mom missed the flight while bidding farewell to everyone.
“We were hugging everyone and saying goodbye… but unbeknownst to us and to my mom – bless her heart – the plane was leaving. They were inside calling us saying your plane was going but we were so sad to leave our family that time had passed for us to go onto the plane. So, we ran back in… and they said your plane has left and I was so upset.”
According to Wright, she wanted to leave at the time because she knew she was destined for greatness.
“I don’t know why I felt this at the age of eight but I felt that there was something for me to do. And God had a way of aligning everything. But I didn’t know that I would go away for so long. So, as I was landing, I was remembering that little girl and how frustrated she was in not knowing how much she would miss her country and how much she would mean to this country.”
Since then, the now 29-year-old said she had big dreams of becoming an actress.
Wright has since built a successful acting career internationally, starring in several television series and movies. But it was her role as ‘Shuri’ in the Marvel Universe’s Black Panther that catapulted her into global stardom and bagged her several prestigious awards.
“I just went to the UK and used the opportunity and God aligned me with acting. But he always aligned me with it. I was in my yard in Goed Intent singing Backstreet Boys songs… I would just be singing, dancing and acting, not knowing that God would use that in the years to come to inspire other people…”
“I come from a humble family, humble background and I just used every opportunity that I could to just use my talent for good… So, as you see me, I pray that you’re inspired no matter how old you are, no matter what you want to do… You continue to chase your dreams and you continue to use your talent and gifts for purpose because it’s allowed to travel the world. It’s allowed me to be honoured, it’s allowed me to honour other people and it’s allowed me to bring great honour to my country.”
“I’m proud to be Guyanese. I’ve always celebrated the fact that I am Guyanese. I celebrate that more than anything. So, I am just thankful for the welcome… You guys really went above and beyond to show me love and I promise to always honour you and show you love as well.”
Wright also expressed her excitement for her stay over the next few weeks in Guyana.
Already, the Ministry of Tourism has planned “a packed agenda” for the actress this week, commencing with a tour to the Iwokrama International Centre for Rain Forest Conservation and Development on Saturday, where she engaged with children from nearby indigenous villages.
Back in November, President Irfaan Ali had congratulated Wright on the success of the Wakanda Forever sequel of Black Panther, and had extended an invitation for her to visit her homeland.
Letitia plays the fictional character Shuri in the Black Panther – a highly intelligent scientist and the princess of the country of Wakanda, acting alongside actors like the late Chadwick Boseman, Lupita Nyong’o and Michael B Jordan. The Wakanda Forever sequel in 2022 revealed her character as the new Black Panther.
Letitia also appears in the Avengers: Endgame; Avengers, Infinity War; Death on the Nile, Sing 2, the Silent Twins among others.