Gugu Mbatha-Raw

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Gugu Mbatha-Raw 2013 TIFF.jpg
Born Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha
(1983-06-30) June 30, 1983 (age 31)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UK
Occupation Actress
Years active 2004–present

Gugu Mbatha-Raw (born Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha; June 30, 1983)[1][2] is a British stage and film actress.

Early life[edit]

Gugu Mbatha-Raw was born Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha[3] in Oxford, England.[3] Her surname is made up of both her parents’ and her first name is the shortened version of ‘Gugulethu’, a contraction of igugu lethu that means ‘Our Pride’ in Zulu.[4][5] Her mother, Anne Raw, is an English nurse, and her father, Patrick Mbatha, is a doctor originally from the Republic of South Africa.[6][7] Her father is black and her mother is white.[8] Mbatha-Raw grew up in the small town of Witney in Oxfordshire, and attended The Henry Box School, before moving to London to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in 2001.


Early career[edit]

Mbatha-Raw played minor roles on television series such as Bad Girls (2006), Doctor Who (2007) and Marple (2007). One of her earliest breakthroughs in drama was in Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester in 2005.[9] Mbatha-Raw was nominated for best actress in the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards for her portrayal of Juliet and also played Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra at the same theatre in 2005.[10]

In September 2010, she starred in the J. J. Abrams TV series Undercovers, which was cancelled two months later.[11][12]

In June 2011, Mbatha-Raw was cast as the female lead in the Fox pilot Touch opposite Kiefer Sutherland.[13]

She had a supporting role in 2011 romantic comedy film Larry Crowne, written and directed by Tom Hanks, who starred in the title role.[14]

Career breakthrough[edit]

She starred in Amma Asante's 2013 film Belle, playing the eponymous historical character, Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed-race aristocrat in 18th century Britain.[15] The film debuted at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival where it was acquired by Fox Searchlight. It was eventually given a release in 2014. Mbatha-Raw was nominated for two British Independent Film Awards for her work on the film: Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film and Most Promising Newcomer.

In 2014, Mbatha-Raw also starred in Beyond the Lights. The film debuted at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. For her work in Beyond the Lights Mbatha-Raw was nominated for Best Actress at the 2014 Gotham Awards.[16]

Future projects[edit]

In 2015 Mbatha-Raw will have a supporting role in Jupiter Ascending as well as taking on a role in Courtney Hunt's first film since her award winning Frozen River, The Whole Truth.

Mbatha-Raw is set to star in the upcoming biopic Concussion, starring Will Smith, the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who first discovered extensive brain damage in NFL players and tried to put a stop to it.[17]



Year Title Role Notes
2004 Holby City Collette Hill
2006 Vital Signs Eve
Walk Away and I Stumble nurse
Bad Girls Fidelity
2007 Spooks Jenny
Doctor Who Tish Jones 4 episodes
Doctor Who Confidential Herself Interviewee
Marple Tina Argyle In Ordeal by Innocence
2008 Lost in Austen Piranha
Bonekickers Viv Davis
Trial & Retribution Jenny Miller
2009 Fallout Shanice Roberts Part of Channel 4's Disarming Britain series
2010 Undercovers Samantha Bloom
2012 Touch Clea Hopkins[18]


Year Title Role Notes
2011 Larry Crowne Talia
2012 Odd Thomas Viola
2013 Belle Dido Elizabeth Belle Nominated—BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film
Nominated—BIFA Award for Most Promising Newcomer
2014 Beyond the Lights Noni Jean Nominated—Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actress
2015 Jupiter Ascending Famulus
The Whole Truth
2016 Concussion Prema Mutiso Filming


Year Title Theatre Role Notes
2005 Antony and Cleopatra Royal Exchange in Manchester Cleopatra
Romeo and Juliet Juliet Capulet
2008 Gethsemane National Theatre Monique
2009–2010 Hamlet Donmar West End and Broadway Ophelia Opposite Jude Law


Year Title Role Station / Notes
2006 Living with the Enemy Sophie/Various BBC Radio 4, broadcast 14 November – 19 December 2006
2009 Choice of Straws Michelle BBC Radio 4, Saturday Play, broadcast on 19 September 2009


  1. ^ Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1916-2005.; at
  2. ^ Elber, Lynn (22 September 2010). "`Undercovers' colorful mission: bring change to TV". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Gugu Mbatha-Raw at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ <As told by Gugu Mbatha-Raw in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, 11/12/14/>
  5. ^ Taylor, Ben (23 April 2014). "5 things about ‘Belle’ Gugu Mbatha-Raw". Swide. 
  6. ^ "Gugu Mbatha-Raw — The 50 Hottest Biracial Women". 12 June 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  7. ^ Louise Wise, "Hear her roar", The Sunday Times,1 June 2014.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Gardner, Lyn (15 September 2005). "Romeo and Juliet - Royal Exchange, Manchester". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  10. ^ Dehn, Georgia (28 May 2009). "Hamlet with Jude Law at Wyndham's Theatre: Gugu Mbatha-Raw is mad for it". The Telegraph. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  11. ^ Oldenburg, Ann (4 November 2010). "NBC cancels 'Undercovers' after 13 episodes". USA Today. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  12. ^ Carter, Bill (4 November 2010). "NBC Cancels ‘Undercovers’". New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  13. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (10 June 2011). "'Undercovers' Star Gugu Mbatha-Raw Set As Female Lead In Fox's Pilot 'Touch'". Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  14. ^ Mbatha-Raw, Gugu Star Pulse
  15. ^ Obenson, Tambay A. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw Will Be "Belle" In Slavery Pic Based On Mixed-Race Woman Raised In Aristocratic Family". Shadow and Act. Indiewire. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  16. ^ "2014 Gotham Award Nominations Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  17. ^ "Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in Beyond the Light, premiering at TIFF". 
  18. ^ Gugu Mbatha-Raw joins Kiefer Sutherland in FOX's 'Touch'

External links[edit]