Letitia Wright would like to move past the controversy that brewed up two years ago after she posted an anti-vaccination video. In December 2020, the Black Panther The actress tweeted out a praying-hands emoji as she shared a link to the web show On The Tablein which host Tomi Arayomi — a self-described prophet and not a medical professional — expressed his skepticism about vaccines, including the ones then being developed to slow the spread of COVID-19.
But the video — which fellow Marvel Cinematic Universe star Don Cheadle called “hot garbage,” though he made a point of not condemning Wright directly — sparked fierce backlash. “If you don’t conform to popular opinions. But ask questions and think for yourself … you get canceled,” Wright tweeted in response to the uproar, then clarified that “my intention was not to hurt anyone, my ONLY intention of posting the video was it raised my concerns with what the vaccine contains and what we are putting in our bodies … nothing else.” She then deleted her account.
In a new interview with the Guardian coinciding with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever dominating the box office for the second week in a row, Wright appeared reticent when asked about the Twitter brouhaha and whether it reflected her views.
“I feel it’s something I experienced two years ago and I have in a healthy way moved on,” the Guyanese-British star tells interviewer Simon Hattenstone. “And in a healthy way I’ve apologized and deleted my Twitter. I just apologized for any hurt that was caused to anybody.”
When asked if sharing the video misrepresented her values, the Mangrove star said, “That’s exactly what my apology was. It was saying this is not me, and I apologize.”
Noting that Arayomi’s video also included homophobic and transphobic remarks, Hattenstone pressed Wright as to whether her fans might have gotten the impression that she shared those opinions.
“Those are things that I am not and I apologized and I’ve moved on,” responded Wright, who last year called claims in The Hollywood Reporter that she was pushing anti-vax views on the set of Wakanda Forever “Completely untrue.”
She did not answer when Hattenstone asked if she’d been vaccinated, telling him, “I have apologized and I have moved on. Next question. Thanks.”
The actress, who plays tech-savvy Shuri in the Marvel franchise, was more forthcoming about the death of co-star Chadwick Boseman, who died of colon cancer in August of 2020. The 43-year-old actor kept his diagnosis secret, so Wright was understandably stunned when news of his death broke.
“I was at home in my apartment in East London,” she recalled. “I was by myself. I just woke up and saw an email saying my condolences, and I was like, ‘My condolences for what?’ Then I clicked out of that email and just kept seeing Chadwick Boseman, Chadwick Boseman, Chadwick Boseman. I was like, ‘What the hell’s going on?’ I clicked on one, and it was the PR team saying, ‘Do you want to write a statement?’ Statement? What’s going on?
“And I went to my phone, and I saw 50 calls back-to-back from different people. I was like, this is mad. So I just called Chad and his phone was ringing out.”
Wright managed to get another Black Panther co-star, Daniel Kaluuya, on the phone.
“I was like, ‘Bro, what’s going on?’ And he was silent. And I was like, ‘Bro you have five seconds to tell me this is not true? This is horrible. What’s going on?'” she continued. “And there was this dead silence, and I was like, ‘I think this is true, but I’m just asking you to tell me that it’s not.’ And he didn’t. His response was, ‘Tish, where are you, who are you with?’ And I was like, ‘OK you’re not giving me the answer I need, I’m going to call Chad again.’ Daniel said, ‘Tish what are you doing?‘I said I’m trying to call Chad, and he said ‘Tish, the family…’ And the second he said that I just lost it. I was punching my apartment up, I was screaming. I was just so angry. I was like, ‘Bro, Daniel, this is not happening’, but his silence spoke so loudly. And he just came immediately from where he was to comfort me.”
Losing Boseman has had a significant impact, she shared.
“You don’t know until something happens how it will affect you,” Wright said. “You think you have time, and that’s the thing I’ve learned. These things make you realize it’s important to reach out to people you love. The amount of times I text my cast members to tell them I love them, especially Danai [Gurira]. I’m always texting Ryan [Coogler] that I love him, and asking him how he is. I’m not going to delay that any more because tomorrow’s not promised.
“Since Chad died, I’m so afraid to lose people.”