It’s been a great -- and standout -- year for Letitia Wright.
The 24-year-old Guyanese-British actress went from a handful of TV appearances on British shows (Banana, Cucumber and Humans) in 2015 to high-profile projects like an episode of Black Mirror, Drake’s “Nice for What” music video and The Commuter, Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity Wars, Black Panther and Ready Player One -- all culminating in her first-ever Emmy nomination.
But getting to this point has been an exhausting, if thrilling journey for Wright, who was in the middle of filming her breakout role as Shuri in Black Panther when another dream opportunity came across her plate: a key role in an episode of Black Mirror, a show she’s followed since it first premiered in 2011.
“[Black Mirror] got the last bit of me, the very, very last bit,” Wright tells ET by phone. Despite her fatigue, however, she dug deep and delivered another knockout performance -- this one worthy of a first-time Emmy nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie, putting her up against acting heavyweights like Judith Light, Merritt Wever and Penélope Cruz.
“To know that the hard work and care that went into this character and what she was representing -- that people vibe to it and it got a nomination -- is just a feeling of total gratitude,” Wright continues, revealing that she was taking a break during a driving lesson when she first learned of the Emmy news.
“I just put my head on the steering well and was thanking God, really, because it’s a huge thing. I’m just really grateful, if I’m being honest. I don’t want validation to come about from awards, but when it does happen, it’s a lovely little nudge that says, ‘Hey, kid, you’re going in the right direction.’”
In her Black Mirror episode, “Black Museum,” Wright plays Nish, a young British tourist traveling through the southwest United States. She seemingly stumbles onto the titular roadside attraction, which specializes in technology-based crimes (there are several callbacks to previous episodes) and is overseen by carny proprietor Rolo Haynes (Douglas Hodge). This being Black Mirror, nothing is as it seems, and Nish, who turns out to be “faking” her British accent, gains a measure of familial revenge.
The episode was one of the season’s most controversial offerings, as critics were split on its interpretation of justice versus vengeance, but there were no qualms about Wright’s powerful performance, which she said was inspired by 13th, Ava DuVernay’s Emmy-nominated documentary about racial inequality in the prison industrial-complex.
“What is she doing across the world? What’s the purpose? Everything flipped when I watched 13th. That stuff is crazy, and this story is mirroring what’s going on. It added layers to my character. So, it was going back to telling the truth in every line, every look and every stare,” Wright says of breaking down creator and writer Charlie Brooker’s script.
For Wright, just being part of Black Mirror was special, especially since she’d had an opportunity to be on the show in 2016 but had to turn the part down due to scheduling conflicts. When the chance for “Black Museum” came up during Black Panther, Wright jumped at the opportunity, pulling in some help from her co-star and series veteran, Daniel Kaluuya, to get things just right.
“They asked me to read the script and, if I liked it, put myself on tape. I called up Daniel and was like, ‘Bro, I need that source.’ Come to my apartment and help me,” Wright recalls. “He played Rolo for me. I said, ‘I can’t do two takes, we need to nail this in one.’ We did it and the week after that, I booked it. So, it was like that door for Black Mirror was purposely being closed. God was like, ‘This one is better.’ I am just floored by how amazing it’s all worked out. It’s a blessing to me.”
One catch, however: Wright has yet to see “Black Museum,” claiming her increasingly busy schedule has prevented her from really digging into the season. “By the Emmys, I will have seen the episode,” she says with a laugh. “It’s so bad. I want to see the whole season together, so finding that time is annoying.”
While the Emmy nomination is another feather in the cap for Wright, whose star power continues to enjoy a meteoric rise, her goal is not to get swallowed by the Hollywood star machine. “It’s been cool. The only adjustment is hearing your name come out of people’s mouths who would never know your name, and people being outwardly excited about your work. I really try to keep as grounded as possible,” Wright says.
“I can’t hide anymore on the plane, train or Chick-fil-A. I had to accept that. But it’s not as scary as people make it out to be. I still want to be me. I’m human and you are, too.”
The 70th Primetime Emmy Awards, co-hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost and Michael Che, will air live from the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles on Monday, Sept. 17, starting at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC. Check out the full list of nominees and ET’s ongoing Emmy coverage here.