Leading “Black Panther” actor Winston Duke is graduate of Brighton High School

One of the leading actors in the much-anticipated film “Black Panther” has ties to Rochester. Winston Duke is a 2004 graduate of Brighton High School. (WHAM photo)

Brighton, N.Y. (WHAM) - From a small, tightknit community to the big screen - one of the leading actors in the much-anticipated film “Black Panther” has ties to Rochester. Winston Duke is a 2004 graduate of Brighton High School.

Close friend and former classmate Brittany Lattimore reminisced about Duke as she flipped through the pages of the Brighton High School yearbook.

“He was always charismatic, very humble guy, always laughing, very sweet. Because he was such a tall guy, a lot of people got a lot of hugs from him,” she laughed.

Lattimore first met Duke in high school 17 years ago.

Despite his leading role as a supervillain in Marvel's comic book adaptation “Black Panther” she said not much has changed.

“He is quite aware of everything that’s going on - all the love that's coming from Rochester,” said Lattimore. “He’s a very, very humble guy. He always has been. His humility is something that also stood out."

In high school, Duke was an athlete. He played football and was on the JV and varsity wrestling teams. He was also in the Future Business Leaders of America club.

“He was always passionate in regards to whatever he did,” Lattimore said. “(He was) involved and dabbled in many different sports and just like the rest of us, tried to figure out the niche."

Duke eventually found his niche in acting. He took to twitter Friday to thank his former teacher who helped to put the idea in his head.

“Just like any teacher, you don't have to be in that subject to see something within a student."

Duke would then go on to take drama classes at Yale, but not before studying theatre at the University at Buffalo.

University at Buffalo alumna Rachel Elzufon studied dance. She and Duke had mutual friends and said their paths would often cross.

“He’s a really hard worker and deserves everything that's happening to him right now,” said Elzufon. “It's just really exciting to see everything unfold, and really fun watching him on the big screen."

“Black Panther” is Duke’s first major role on the big screen, but it's not his first acting role. He's had minor roles in Modern Family, Person of Interest and Law & Order.

“Black Panther” is expected to break box office records and could take in close to $200 million dollars by the end of Presidents Day weekend.

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