“Black Panther” star Letitia Wright has taken inspiration from fans hailing her performance as the tech-savvy character Shuri and partnered with energy company Shell to highlight young women making strides in STEM.
A look at Wright's filmography might easily lead one to believe STEM advocacy is her calling. The 24-year-old has also played a techie on “Black Mirror” and in the futuristic sci-fi movie “Ready Player One.” Being a black woman on screen who handles technology like a second nature has emboldened many to reach out to Wright and send the actress heartwarming messages.
Wright told Evening Standard that she received “a flood of messages from people saying thank you for representing us. There’s been such a lack of exposure to young women in STEM subjects.”
Confident in her platform and power to make a difference, Wright worked with Shell to create a video in which she met and spoke with young female students who were entering Shell’s Eco-marathon. The marathon consists of two parts: in the first, students race to complete a track run while using the least amount of energy as possible. The winners then move on to the Mileage Challenge, in which they compete for the World Championship, winning if they are the first to cross the finish line with a pre-allotted energy. The students design, build and drive the cars themselves.
The U.K. challenge takes place in a country where only 23 percent of those in STEM are women, Standard reports.
“You’ve got to see it to be it,” Wright told Standard. “They’re fields that are dominated by males, but there are all these women doing amazing work.”
Despite these low numbers, Wright hopes to be an inspiration for those who want to get involved in stem, but lack representation or don’t quite know how to make their first steps.
“Since I was 17, I’ve tried to break the mold of what we see on TV and film, especially as a young, black woman,” Wright said. “I want to see something different. You have to ask the question – why not see me for this? Why not see me for this different role, this quirky character?”
Wright hopes to continue her work in STEM by eventually partnering with an organization that can work to make the air clean. But in the meantime, she is comfortable being a role model to the young women looking up to her.
“Believing in yourself is one obstacle,” Wright admitted. “You’ve got to believe you’ve got something to bring… I want to inspire people – and inspire people on my terms."
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