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
AS a six-year-old, Gugu Mbatha-Raw pirouetted her way through a ballet on stage at Witney's Corn Exchange, wearing a white tutu her mother had made, writes GILL OLIVER.
That experience was her first taste of performing in front of an audience, and she has never looked back. Since graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) three years ago, Gugu has had a meteoric rise in the acting world - her most recent TV role was in the hit series Doctor Who, playing Tish, the sister of the Doctor's assistant Martha Jones.
Gugu, 24, has also appeared in Holby City and Spooks - and is widely tipped as one of Britain's most talented up-and-coming actresses.
Born at the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, she lived in Oxford for the first year of her life, before her father, a doctor, and her mother, a nurse, parted.
Gugu and her mother, Anne Raw, moved to Witney, but she remains close to her father, Patrick Mbatha.
"Dad lives in Shropshire, but I see him regularly. In fact, we met up in London recently, and went to the theatre together."
Her name is a legacy to her father's South African roots. "In Zulu, Gugu is short for Gugulethu, which means our pride'," she explained. "I've never been called Gugulethu, but it's nice to know that it is my full name."
While growing up in Witney and attending Our Lady of Lourdes primary school, her first love was dancing.
But she was soon a member of local group Dramascope, where she made her acting debut.
The day I met Gugu, she was having coffee with her first drama teacher, Terry Powell, of Dramascope, at the Fleece Hotel on the town's Church Green.
Terry remembered how enthusiastic the young Gugu was: "She was so focused, and always gave 100 per cent," he said.
When she started at Henry Box School, Gugu had her first taste of professional, rather than amateur dramatics.Gugu's success, he believes, has also come because she is multi-talented. She's able to turn her hand to acting, singing, tap, ballet, jazz and modern dance, and is also a skilled saxophone player.
"From the age of 11," she remembered, "I used to appear in the Oxford Playhouse pantomimes every year.
"I was in the children's chorus, and on stage every other night. Although it was a rush to fit it in around school and homework, it was so much fun.
"It was exciting going into Oxford and being at the Playhouse, and it gave me a chance to see what it was really like to work with professional actors."
A part in the Oxfordshire Youth Music Theatre followed - she received rave reviews for her singing in the adaptation of Cole Porter's jazz musical Anything Goes.
"When I got to 16, all my friends were choosing which A-Levels to do," she said. "I thought about going to stage school, but my mum advised me to stay on and get my exams first, then pursue acting if I still wanted to."
Gugu continued to pursue her love of drama outside school hours.
Landing a role in a production of Into the Woods with the National Youth Music Theatre proved to be an important milestone in her career.
"During the school summer holidays we rehearsed and then toured, including performing at the Oxford Playhouse. Everything was done to a really high professional standard, and it was definitely a turning point for me.
"I think I already knew that I wanted to be an actor, but the whole experience made me more confident and allowed me to believe I really could do it."
She decided to audition for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), and was delighted to be accepted for their prestigious three-year course. Winning an Arts Achievement Award of £1,000 and sponsorship from the Witney Rotary Club and Lions spurred her on, boosted her confidence.
Since she graduated from RADA three years ago, she has been constantly in demand for screen and stage work.
Some of her most prominent theatre roles include Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the Manchester Royal Exchange, and a part in Big White Fog at the Almeida Theatre, London, which ran until June.
Her first TV break came as Colette Hill in Holby City, followed by parts in Bad Girls, Spooks and, most recently, as Tish, the sister of Doctor Who's assistant Martha Jones.
Along the way, she's worked with some of Britain's top actors, including Robert Glenister, David Tennant, Phyllis Logan, and Alison Steadman.
There's a chance to see Gugu on our TV screens again this autumn in an Agatha Christie Marple adaptation of Ordeal by Innocence, which was filmed near Thame and Aylesbury. In the period drama, her adoptive mother is played by Hollywood star Jane Seymour.
"Unfortunately, I never got to meet her," laughed Gugu. "She lives in America, and wasn't able to make it for the read-through, and although we play mum and daughter we didn't actually have any scenes together!"
On the rare occasions when she is not working, Gugu likes to spend time with friends, including her actor boyfriend. She prefers not to name him, but he is an actor in a well-known TV series.
But because he is based in Budapest for filming six months of the year, this involves regular flights back and forth to Hungary.
"It's quite an exciting place to visit for a mini-break," she explained. "And he'll be back in the UK in about three months' time, so it's not so bad."
Gugu is also keen on yoga, going to the gym and swimming as a way of unwinding, and says a lot of her hobbies are related to her job.
"I love going to the theatre and to see films, and I often go and see my friends in productions, and they come and see me, and we link up afterwards.
"Honestly though, because I do such a lot of travelling and work silly hours, it's really nice to have a quiet evening in sometimes. When you are working in a theatre for six nights of the week, it makes such a difference to be at home just pottering around."
Although Gugu lives in London, she comes back to Witney to visit her family and friends frequently. She said: "I still have plenty of friends from school days and from Dramascope, and we catch up whenever I am home."
On a recent trip home, she was guest speaker at her old school Henry Box's prize day.
"It was a real treat to be there. One of the students asked me to sign their certificate. And then suddenly, one after another, all these kids were queuing up for autographs," she laughed.
Continuing her meteoric rise, Gugu has just landed two more plum roles, literally within weeks of each other. The first is in Lynda La Plante's drama Trial and Retribution, and she'll be making her first foray into films with a part in the British production Adulthood.
Something tells me we'll be seeing and hearing a lot more from this remarkable girl from Witney