Letitia Wright had some pretty big shoes to fill in the new feature Mangrove from Steve McQueen‘s anthology film series Small Axe.
The film, which follows the Mangrove Nine — a group Black British activists who were arrested and tried for inciting a riot at a protest against police — stars Wright as Altheia Jones-LeCointe, the leader of the British Black Panther Movement and one of the Mangrove Nine. Wright tells ABC Audio that she had little knowledge of the actual trial, which led to the first judicial acknowledgement that racism existed within the Metropolitan Police.
“I didn’t know that this case even occurred,” she admits. “But I know that, as fate and God would have it, there’s a time for us to be able to take stories on and bring them to the surface. And now’s the time.”
As Wright alludes, McQueen’s film is the first full-length feature on the protests and trial. Wright says after she researched and “[fed herself] all the information” she needed to become Altheia, her next step was to connect with the activist.
“And it was a beautiful connection,” Wright says. “I really made it very clear to her I wasn’t trying to replicate her or be her. I wanted to just represent her [and] what she was carrying in her spirit at that time to fight for what was important. And just be a voice for change for her people.”
Thankfully, they were both had the same vision with Wright noting that Altheia was “really was adamant about… it being done in the right way.”
“For there being truth there… and substance in what we were saying, what we were doing,” Wright explains.
“So hopefully we’ve achieved that. And hopefully she’s proud,” she adds.
Mangrove is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.
By Candice Williams
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