Gugu Mbatha-Raw

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Gugu Mbatha-Raw 2013 TIFF.jpg
Born Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha
(1983-04-21) April 21, 1983 (age 31)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UK
Occupation Actress
Years active 2004–present

Gugu Mbatha-Raw (pronounced "Goo-goo Um-BAT-uh-Raw",[1]born Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha; June 30, 1983)[2][3] is a British stage and film actress. Working in British television and stage productions, Mbatha-Raw first gained prominence in a recurring role in Doctor Who, playing companion Martha Jones's sister. She soon gained attention in American productions, beginning with a supporting role in the Tom Hanks comedy Larry Crowne, and main star roles in short lived television series Undercovers and Touch.

Mbatha-Raw earned critical acclaim for her performances in the period drama Belle and the romantic drama Beyond the Lights, receiving numerous accolade nominations from critics worldwide.

Early life[edit]

Gugu Mbatha-Raw was born Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha[4] in Oxford, England.[4] 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 Treasure’ in Zulu.[5][6] Her mother, Anne Raw, is an English nurse, and her father, Patrick Mbatha, is a doctor originally from the Republic of South Africa.[7][8][9] 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 playing Juliet opposite Andrew Garfield as Romeo.[10] 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.[11]

In 2009 Mbatha-Raw was cast as Ophelia in Hamlet opposite Jude Law in the titular role.[12]

In September 2010, she was cast in the J. J. Abrams TV series Undercovers, after he spotted her in Hamlet. The show was cancelled two months later.[13][14]

In June 2011, Mbatha-Raw was cast as the female lead in the Fox pilot Touch opposite Kiefer Sutherland.[15]

She had a supporting role in 2011 romantic comedy film Larry Crowne, written and directed by Tom Hanks, who starred in the title role.[16]

2013 - present[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.[17][18] 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 numerous awards for her work on the film including two British Independent Film Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film which she won and Most Promising Newcomer. She was also nominated for a Satellite Award for Best Actress.

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.[19]

In recognition of her body of work she was nominated for a BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2015.[20]

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.[21]

In early 2015 she announced she would be starring opposite Mathew McConaughey in a biopic on Newton Knight directed by Gary Ross playing Knight's common-law wife, Rachel.[22]



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[23]


Year Title Role Notes
2011 Larry Crowne Talia Nominated- Black Reel Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
2012 Odd Thomas Viola
2013 Belle Dido Elizabeth Belle African-American Film Critics Association Award for Best Actress
BIFA Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film
Black Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress
Nominated—BIFA Award for Most Promising Newcomer
Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Performer
Nominated—Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated—NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture
Nominated— Florida Film Critics Circle Pauline Kael Breakout Award (Runner-up)
Pending — Black Reel Award for Best Actress
Pending — London Film Critics' Circle Award for British Actress of the Year
Pending — Satellite Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture
Pending—Central Ohio Film Critics Association Breakthrough Film Artist
2014 Beyond the Lights Noni Jean Nominated—Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Most Promising Performer
Nominated—Detroit Film Critics Society Award for Best Breakthrough Performance
Nominated—Gotham Independent Film Award for Best Actress
Nominated— Florida Film Critics Circle Pauline Kael Breakout Award (Runner-up)
Pending — Black Reel Award for Best Actress
Pending—Central Ohio Film Critics Association Breakthrough Film Artist
2015 Jupiter Ascending Famulus
The Whole Truth
2015 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. ^ Bernstein, Abbie (May 30, 2012). "GUGU M’BATHA-RAW ON “TOUCH” Interview – EXCLUSIVE". buzzymag. Retrieved January 12, 2015. 
  2. ^ Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1916-2005.; at
  3. ^ Elber, Lynn (22 September 2010). "`Undercovers' colorful mission: bring change to TV". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Gugu Mbatha-Raw at the Internet Movie Database
  5. ^ <As told by Gugu Mbatha-Raw in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, 11/12/14/>
  6. ^ Taylor, Ben (23 April 2014). "5 things about ‘Belle’ Gugu Mbatha-Raw". Swide. 
  7. ^ "Gugu Mbatha-Raw — The 50 Hottest Biracial Women". 12 June 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  8. ^ Louise Wise, "Hear her roar", The Sunday Times,1 June 2014.
  9. ^
  10. ^ Gardner, Lyn (15 September 2005). "Romeo and Juliet - Royal Exchange, Manchester". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  11. ^ 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. 
  12. ^ John, Emma (31 May 2009). "Jude, don't make her mad". Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  13. ^ Oldenburg, Ann (4 November 2010). "NBC cancels 'Undercovers' after 13 episodes". USA Today. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  14. ^ Carter, Bill (4 November 2010). "NBC Cancels ‘Undercovers’". New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  15. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (10 June 2011). "'Undercovers' Star Gugu Mbatha-Raw Set As Female Lead In Fox's Pilot 'Touch'". Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  16. ^ Mbatha-Raw, Gugu Star Pulse
  17. ^
  18. ^ 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. 
  19. ^ "2014 Gotham Award Nominations Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  20. ^ Zuckerman, Esther. "Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller among BAFTA Rising Star nominees". Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  21. ^ "Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in Beyond the Light, premiering at TIFF". 
  22. ^ Sneider, Jeff. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Star Opposite Matthew McConaughey in Gary Ross’ ‘Free State of Jones’ (Exclusive)". Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  23. ^ Gugu Mbatha-Raw joins Kiefer Sutherland in FOX's 'Touch'

External links[edit]