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

Gugu Mbatha-Raw
MBE
Gugu Mbatha-Raw 2013 TIFF.jpg
Mbatha-Raw in 2013
Born Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha
(1983-04-21) 21 April 1983 (age 34)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Alma mater Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
Occupation Actress
Years active 2004–present
Notable work

Working in British television and stage productions, she gained prominence in a recurring role on 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 on 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, 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] Her performance as Kelly in the critically acclaimed "San Junipero", an episode in season three of the cult anthology series Black Mirror was highly praised.

Contents

Early lifeEdit

Mbatha-Raw was born in 1983 in Oxford, England, and grew up in the town of Witney in Oxfordshire. She was born to Patrick Mbatha, a black African doctor originally from South Africa, and Anne Raw, a white English nurse. Her forename is the shortened version of "Gugulethu", a contraction of igugu lethu that means "our treasure" in Zulu.[7]

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, credits including dancing at the Judy Tompsett School of Dance, now known as the Marsh Tompsett School of Dance.[8] In 2001, she moved to London to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

CareerEdit

Early careerEdit

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.[9] Mbatha-Raw was nominated for best actress in the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards for her portrayal of Juliet. She also appeared as Octavia in Antony and Cleopatra at the same theatre in 2005.[10]

In 2009, Mbatha-Raw was cast as Ophelia in Hamlet on London's West End and Broadway, opposite Jude Law as the title role.[11] In September 2010, she was cast on J. J. Abrams' television series Undercovers, after he spotted her in Hamlet. The series was cancelled two months later.[12][13]

In June 2011, Mbatha-Raw was cast as the female lead on the Fox television series Touch opposite Kiefer Sutherland.[14] She had a supporting role in the romantic comedy Larry Crowne (2011), written and directed by Tom Hanks, who starred as the title role.[15] She was also named one of 42 Brits to Watch by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.[16]

2013–presentEdit

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 Chief Justice Mansfield's household in 18th-century England.[17][18]

The film debuted at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival where it was acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures. 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 as a popular singer in the romantic drama 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 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.[20]

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.[21]

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.[22] 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.[23] 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 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.[24]

In 2016, Mbatha-Raw appeared in "San Junipero", an episode of the anthology series Black Mirror,[25] and played a major supporting role in Miss Sloane, a drama about Washington lobbyists starring Jessica Chastain. The film premiered at the AFI Film Festival in November.[26]

Other projectsEdit

In 2017, Mbatha-Raw played Plumette in the live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast.[27]

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood announced in March 2016 that Mbatha-Raw would star in her adaptation of Roxane Gay's novel An Untamed State.[28]

FilmographyEdit

TelevisionEdit

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[29] 13 episodes (season 1)
2016 Easy Sophie Episode: "Chemistry Read"
2016 Black Mirror Kelly Episode: "San Junipero"

FilmEdit

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
2017 God Particle In post-production
2018 A Wrinkle in Time Dr. Kate Murry In post-production

Other worksEdit

TheatreEdit

Year Title Role Venue Notes
1999 Into the Woods Cinderella's Mother (u/s Rapunzel) National Youth Music Theatre
2004 Akos Nemeth's Car Thieves Móni Birmingham Rep
2005 Antony and Cleopatra Iras/Octavia Royal Exchange in Manchester
2005 Romeo and Juliet Juliet 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

RadioEdit

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, The Saturday Play, broadcast on 19 September 2009

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Association Award Work Result
2011 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Undercovers Nominated
2012 Black Reel Awards Best Breakthrough Performance Larry Crowne Nominated
2014 Miami International Film Festival SIGNIS Award Belle Won
Chicago International Film Festival Emerging Artist Award Beyond the Lights Won
British Independent Film Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film Belle Won
Best Newcomer Nominated
African-American Film Critics Association Best Actress Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Performer Nominated
Women's Image Network Awards Actress in a Feature Film Nominated
Gotham Independent Film Awards Best Actress Beyond the Lights Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Breakthrough Film Artist Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Pauline Kael Breakout Award 2nd place
Village Voice Film Poll Best Actress 9th place
Capri Hollywood Rising Star Won
2015 BAFTA Awards BAFTA Rising Star Award N/A Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle British Actress of the Year Belle Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
Satellite Award Best Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Actress Won
Beyond the Lights Nominated
International Online Film Critics' Poll Best Actress Nominated
Georgia Film Critics Association Breakthrough Awards Nominated
Empire Awards Best Female Newcomer Belle Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Breakthrough Performance Won
2016 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Concussion Nominated
Black Reel Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated

Mbatha-Raw was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to drama.[30]

ReferencesEdit

  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. ^ Jimmy Kimmel Live!, 12 November 2014
  8. ^ "Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Big Questions". BAFTA Guru. Retrieved 17 August 2015. 
  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. ^ John, Emma (31 May 2009). "Jude, don't make her mad". Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  12. ^ Oldenburg, Ann (4 November 2010). "NBC cancels 'Undercovers' after 13 episodes". USA Today. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  13. ^ Carter, Bill (4 November 2010). "NBC Cancels ‘Undercovers’". New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2010. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ Profile, starpulse.com; accessed 1 March 2015.
  16. ^ "42 Brits to Watch announced" (PDF). 
  17. ^ califor123 (13 June 2014). "Belle (2013)". IMDb. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  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. ^ "Meet Elle's 2014 Women in Hollywood". 15 October 2014. 
  21. ^ Zuckerman, Esther. "Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller among BAFTA Rising Star nominees". Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  22. ^ Rooney, David. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Return to London Stage". Retrieved 3 July 2015. 
  23. ^ "Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in Beyond the Light, premiering at TIFF". 
  24. ^ Sneider, Jeff. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Star Opposite Matthew McConaughey in Gary Ross’ ‘Free State of Jones’ (Exclusive)". Retrieved 7 January 2015. 
  25. ^ "‘Black Mirror’ Season 3 Trailer: "No One Is This Happy’". Deadline. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  26. ^ Monji, Jana (November 12, 2016). "AFI FEST 2016: "MISS SLOANE"". rogerebert.com. Retrieved December 12, 2016. 
  27. ^ Kroll, Justin. "‘Beyond the Lights’ Star Gugu Mbatha-Raw Joins ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved 14 April 2015. 
  28. ^ Fleming Jr, Mike. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw To Star, Gina Prince-Bythewood To Helm ‘An Untamed State’". Retrieved 22 March 2016. 
  29. ^ "Gugu Mbatha-Raw joins Kiefer Sutherland in FOXs Touch". HitFix. Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  30. ^ "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B21. 

External linksEdit