Gugu Mbatha-Raw

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw
Gugu Mbatha-Raw 2013 TIFF.jpg
Mbatha-Raw in 2013
Born Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha
(1983-04-21) 21 April 1983 (age 33)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actress
Years active 2004–present
Notable work

Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha (born 21 April[1] 1983),[2][3] known as Gugu Mbatha-Raw (pronounced /ˈɡɡ əmˈbɑːtə rɔː/),[4] is a British stage and film actress.

Working in British television and stage productions, she first gained prominence in a recurring role in Doctor Who, playing Tish Jones, sister of Martha Jones. She garnered attention in American productions, beginning with a supporting role in the Tom Hanks comedy Larry Crowne, and starring roles in the short-lived television series Undercovers and Touch. She earned critical acclaim for her performances in the British period drama Belle (2013) and the romantic drama Beyond the Lights (2014), receiving numerous accolade nominations from critics worldwide.

In 2015 Mbatha-Raw premiered the title role in Jessica Swale's play Nell Gwynn, as an actress and mistress of King Charles II of England.[5] She was nominated for an Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performance.[6]

Early life[edit]

Mbatha-Raw was born in Oxford, England, in 1983 and grew up in the town of Witney in Oxfordshire. Her surnames are those of her father and mother, and her forename is the shortened version of "Gugulethu", a contraction of igugu lethu that means "our treasure" in Zulu.[7][8]

Her mother, Anne Raw, is an English nurse, and her father, Patrick Mbatha, is a doctor originally from South Africa.[9] Mbatha-Raw attended the Henry Box School and participated in the National Youth Theatre, having been interested in acting, dance, and musical theatre from a young age.[10] In 2001 she moved to London to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

Career[edit]

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.[11] Mbatha-Raw was nominated for best actress in the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards for her portrayal of Juliet. She also played Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra at the same theatre in 2005.[12]

In 2009, Mbatha-Raw was cast as Ophelia in Hamlet opposite Jude Law in the titular role.[13] In September 2010, she was cast in J. J. Abrams' television series Undercovers, after he spotted her in Hamlet. The series was cancelled two months later.[14][15]

In June 2011, Mbatha-Raw was cast as the female lead in the Fox pilot Touch opposite Kiefer Sutherland.[16] She had a supporting role in the romantic comedy film Larry Crowne (2011), written and directed by Tom Hanks, who starred in the title role.[17] She was also named a Brit to Watch by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.[18]

2013–present[edit]

Mbatha-Raw gained praise starring in Amma Asante's film Belle (2013), playing the eponymous historical character, Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed-race woman raised as a gentlewoman in her paternal uncle's household, Chief Justice in 18th-century Britain.[19][20]

The film debuted at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival where it was acquired by Fox Searchlight. It was released in 2014. Mbatha-Raw was nominated for numerous awards for her performance, 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.[21]

In 2014, Mbatha-Raw was recognized by Elle Magazine during the Women in Hollywood Awards, honoring women for their outstanding achievements in film. These awards span all aspects of the motion picture industry, including acting, directing, and producing.[22]

In recognition of her body of work, Mbatha-Raw was nominated in 2015 for a BAFTA Rising Star Award. That year, she had a supporting role in the epic space opera Jupiter Ascending.[23]

On 3 July 2015, it was announced that Mbatha-Raw would be the first to play the title role in Jessica Swale's Nell Gwynn playing the actress who became the mistress of King Charles II of England; it premiered at Shakespeare's Globe from 19 September to 17 October 2015.[24] She was nominated for an Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performance.[6]

Also in 2015, she appeared in the biopic Concussion, starring Will Smith. It is the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who first discovered extensive brain damage in NFL players due to concussions, and tried to put a stop to practices that contributed to the condition. She played Prema Mutiso, the wife of Dr. Omalu.[25] The film premiered at the 2015 AFI Festival.

Mbatha-Raw starred opposite Matthew McConaughey in an American biopic on Newton Knight, a yeoman farmer and resister of the Confederacy, in The Free State of Jones (2016), directed by Gary Ross. She plays Knight's common-law wife Rachel, a freedwoman he had a family with after the Civil War.[26]

In 2016, she appeared in "San Junipero", an episode of the anthology series Black Mirror.[27]

Other projects[edit]

In 2015 she was also cast in the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast as Plumette.[28]

In October 2015, it was rumored that Mbatha-Raw will appear in Star Wars: Episode VIII in an undisclosed role.[29]

In January 2016, Mbatha-Raw was rumoured for a supporting role in Miss Sloane, starring Jessica Chastain.[30]

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood announced in March 2016 that Mbatha-Raw would star in her adaptation of Roxane Gay's novel An Untamed State.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Mbatha-Raw was in a relationship with actor Harry Lloyd until 2012.[32]

Filmography[edit]

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2004 Holby City Collette Hill Episode: "Overload"
2005 Walk Away and I Stumble Nurse Television film
2006 Vital Signs Eve 5 episodes
2006 Bad Girls Fidelity Saunders 2 episodes
2006 Spooks Jenny 9 episodes
2007 Doctor Who Tish Jones 4 episodes
2007 Agatha Christie's Marple Tina Argyle Episode: "Ordeal by Innocence"
2008 Lost in Austen Piranha 2 episodes
2008 Bonekickers Viv Davis 6 episodes
2008 Trial & Retribution Jenny Miller Episode: "The Box: Part 1"
2009 Fallout Shanice Roberts Television film
2010 Undercovers Samantha Bloom Main role; 13 episodes
2012 Touch Clea Hopkins[33] 13 episodes (season 1)
2016 Easy Sophie Episode: "Chemistry Read"
2016 Black Mirror Kelly Episode: "San Junipero"

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2011 Larry Crowne Talia
2012 Odd Thomas Viola Peabody
2013 Belle Dido Elizabeth Belle
2014 Beyond the Lights Noni Jean
2015 Jupiter Ascending Famulus
2015 Concussion Prema Mutiso
2016 Free State of Jones Rachel Knight
2016 The Whole Truth Janelle
2016 Miss Sloane Esme Manucharian
2017 Beauty and the Beast Plumette In post-production
2017 God Particle In post-production
2018 A Wrinkle in Time Dr. Kate Murray Filming

Other works[edit]

Theatre[edit]

Year Title Role Venue Notes
1999 Into the Woods Cinderella's Mother (u/s Rapunzel) National Youth Music Theatre
2005 Antony and Cleopatra Cleopatra Royal Exchange in Manchester
2005 Romeo and Juliet Juliet Capulet Royal Exchange in Manchester
2008 Gethsemane Monique National Theatre
2009–10 Hamlet Ophelia Donmar West End and Broadway Opposite Jude Law
2015 Nell Gwynn Nell Gwynn Shakespeare's Globe

Radio[edit]

Year Title Role 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

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Association Category Work Result Ref.
2011 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in Drama Undercovers Nominated
2012 Black Reel Awards Best Breakthrough Performance Larry Crowne Nominated
2014 African-American Film Critics Association Best Actress Belle Won [34]
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Breakthrough Performance Belle Won [35]
British Independent Film Awards Best Actress Belle Won [36]
Capri, Hollywood Capri Rising Star Award Beyond the Lights Won [37]
Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Performer Belle Nominated
Chicago International Film Festival Emerging Artist Award Beyond the Lights Won [38]
Detroit Film Critics Society Breakthrough Artist Beyond the Lights Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Pauline Kael Breakout Award Belle Nominated
Gotham Independent Film Awards Best Actress Beyond the Lights Nominated
Satellite Awards Best Actress Belle Nominated
2015 British Academy Film Awards EE Rising Star Award Nominated
Black Reel Awards Outstanding Actress Belle
Beyond the Lights
Won
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress Belle Nominated
London Film Critics Circle British Actress of the Year Belle Nominated

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Speed Date: 'Belle' Breakout Gugu Mbatha-Raw Fancies Nina Simone and 'The Neverending Story'". yahoo.com. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  2. ^ Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1916–2005; at ancestry.com
  3. ^ Elber, Lynn (22 September 2010). "'Undercovers' colorful mission: bring change to TV". BusinessWeek. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  4. ^ Bernstein, Abbie (30 May 2012). "Gugu Mbatha-Raw On "Touch" Interview – EXCLUSIVE". buzzymag. Retrieved 12 January 2015. 
  5. ^ Williams, Holly. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw on swapping Hollywood for Shakespeare's Globe to play Nell Gwynn". Retrieved 18 September 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Evening Standard Theatre Awards: Full list of nominees". Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  7. ^ As told by Mbatha-Raw in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel on Jimmy Kimmel Live!, 11/12/14
  8. ^ Taylor, Ben (23 April 2014). "5 things about 'Belle' Gugu Mbatha-Raw". Swide. 
  9. ^ "Gugu Mbatha-Raw — The 50 Hottest Biracial Women". Complexmag.ca. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 28 February 2014. 
  10. ^ "Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Big Questions". BAFTA Guru. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  11. ^ Gardner, Lyn (15 September 2005). "Romeo and Juliet – Royal Exchange, Manchester". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-04-07. 
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ John, Emma (31 May 2009). "Jude, don't make her mad". Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  14. ^ Oldenburg, Ann (4 November 2010). "NBC cancels 'Undercovers' after 13 episodes". USA Today. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  15. ^ Carter, Bill (4 November 2010). "NBC Cancels 'Undercovers'". New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  16. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (10 June 2011). "'Undercovers' Star Gugu Mbatha-Raw Set As Female Lead In Fox's Pilot 'Touch'". Deadline.com. Retrieved 10 June 2011. 
  17. ^ Profile, starpulse.com; accessed 1 March 2015.
  18. ^ "42 Brits to Watch announced" (PDF). 
  19. ^ califor123 (13 June 2014). "Belle (2013)". IMDb. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  20. ^ 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. 
  21. ^ "2014 Gotham Award Nominations Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014. 
  22. ^ "Meet Elle's 2014 Women in Hollywood". 15 October 2014. 
  23. ^ Zuckerman, Esther. "Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller among BAFTA Rising Star nominees". Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  24. ^ Rooney, David. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Return to London Stage". Retrieved 3 July 2015. 
  25. ^ "Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in Beyond the Light, premiering at TIFF". 
  26. ^ Sneider, Jeff. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Star Opposite Matthew McConaughey in Gary Ross' 'Free State of Jones' (Exclusive)". Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  27. ^ "'Black Mirror' Season 3 Trailer: "No One Is This Happy'". Deadline. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  28. ^ Kroll, Justin. "'Beyond the Lights' Star Gugu Mbatha-Raw Joins 'Beauty and the Beast' (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  29. ^ Goldberg, Matt (7 October 2015). "Exclusive: 'Star Wars: Episode VIII' Casts Gugu Mbatha-Raw". Collider.com. Retrieved 9 October 2015. 
  30. ^ Kit, Borys. "'Concussion' Star Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Talks to Join Gun-Control Drama 'Miss Sloane' (Exclusive)". Retrieved 26 January 2016. 
  31. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw To Star, Gina Prince-Bythewood To Helm 'An Untamed State'". Retrieved 22 March 2016. 
  32. ^ Walker, Tim. "'I love period dramas. Being biracial, I wasn't necessarily going to turn up on Downton Abbey': Gugu Mbatha-Raw interview". Standard. 
  33. ^ "Gugu Mbatha-Raw joins Kiefer Sutherland in FOXs Touch". HitFix. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  34. ^ Kilday, Gregg (2014-08-12). "African-American Film Critics Association Lauds 'Selma'". Hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 
  35. ^ "2014 EDA Award Winners". AWFJ.org. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 
  36. ^ "BIFA Winners 2014". Bifa.org.uk. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 
  37. ^ "Capri Award News". CapriHollywood.com. 2015-01-08. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 
  38. ^ Riera, Alejandro (2014-10-09). "Director Gina Prince-Bythewood and Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw to be Honoured at 18th Annual Black Perspectives Tribute and Gala". Chicagofilmfestival.com. Retrieved 2015-02-11. 

External links[edit]