Gugu was born in Oxford, England. After Graduating from RADA in 2004 she appeared in TV series Bad Girls, Bonekickers and Doctor Who. In 2013 She starred in Amma Asante's film Belle, playing the eponymous historical character, Dido.Followed by starring in Gina Prince-Bythewood's film Beyond The Lights
Gugu has been nominated for the 2015 BAFTA EE Rising Star Award
It looks like 2015 is going to be Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s year. Not only has she been nominated for a BAFTA, but she’s currently starring alongside Eddie Redmayne in Jupiter Ascending, has just wrapped filming on Concussion with Will Smith and is about to start work on a new film with Matthew McConaughey. Exciting times. This follows on from a successful 2014, when the Oxford born actress won rave reviews for her portrayal of historical character, Dido Elizabeth Belle (a mixed-race 18th century aristocrat) in Belle. She spoke to us about working with Eddie Redmayne, Broadchurch and prosthetic ears...
GD: Congratulations on your BAFTA nomination!
Gugu: It’s been an amazing year with Belle and Beyond The Lights. I was so excited to be recognised and honoured by BAFTA.
GD: What films would you like to win on Sunday at the BAFTAs?
Gugu: I really loved Birdman, it’s so unique, interesting and stylish. It’s so fun. I also loved The Theory of Everything.
GD: What was it like working with Eddie Redmayne on Jupiter Ascending?
Gugu: We are both in it but didn’t actually have any scenes together! I know him a little bit socially though through friends and I’m really excited for him. He did a phenomenal job in The Theory Of Everything.
GD: Tell us about Jupiter Ascending?
Gugu: I’d never done anything on such a large scale. It’s a big futuristic studio movie, and I was excited to get involved because of the Wachowskis (the directors behind The Matrix). I’ve always been inspired by their imagination and the scale of their productions. I got to wear prosthetics for the first time – I wore prosthetic ears. It’s a visually spectacular film.
GD: It’s a good time to be in Hollywood for Brits?
Gugu: I think so but I don’t think there is ever a bad time! It’s not an easy place but there are lots of opportunities there. I love working at home too, it was great to do Belle, because it's such a quintessentially British drama.
GD: What was it like working on Belle?
Gugu: It was so special from start to finish. It was such a unique perspective on history – to know that someone like Belle existed in that period of time. It was a wonderful cast to work with too. I learned so much from Tom Wilkinson and Emily Watson, they are such seasoned actors.
GD: Were you aware of the story before you were cast?
Gugu: I definitely knew about the painting which inspired the story (a 1779 picture of Dido with her cousin Elizabeth Murray formerly attributed to Johann Zoffany). I lived in Highgate when I was at drama school and walked on Hampstead Heath (where Dido lived) all the time. I have a postcard of the painting from the gift shop at Kenwood House.
GD: Did you enjoy doing a period drama?
Gugu: Apart from an episode of Miss Marple, I hadn’t really done anything period on the screen. It was a real delight to go and time travel. It was a shock to the system wearing a corset for 12-hours a day. We did loosen them at lunchtime! It made me realise that they weren’t the most practical items of clothing.
GD: What was it like working with Will Smith on Concussion?
Gugu: It’s been amazing. Concussion is an American true story – it’s about brain injuries in the NFL. Will is such a pro and such an open hearted and spirited person. He’s a very generous actor to work with.
GD: You worked with David Tennant on Doctor Who. Have you been watching him in Broadchurch?
Gugu: I watched the first series but I’ve been filming in Pittsburg for the last few weeks so I’m going to have to catch up. It’s great writing, really suspenseful and David is a terrific actor.
GD: Finally and most importantly - have you got your outfit sorted for the BAFTAs?
Gugu: I’m really fortunate this year to be working with an amazing stylist. She’s helped me out because I’ve been travelling around a lot and there’s not a lot of time to browse. She narrows it down and we’ve got a few options I’m excited about. I’m going to keep that quiet for now…