First, let us discuss the pronunciation of her incredible name – it’s said Goo-Goo Mbah-tah Raw. With that out the way, let us discuss Mbatha-Raw’s impressive credentials. She first attracted attention in period drama Belle, documenting the life of real-life historical figure Dido Elizabeth Belle. This year, she has a supporting role in Jupiter Ascending with Mila Kunis and Channing Tatum and The Whole Truth with Renee Zellweger and Keanu Reeves. Earlier this month, she was named one of BAFTAs Rising Star nominees. Start practicing her name now.
About the nominee
Born in Oxford, Gugu Mbatha-Raw trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Her first professional role was in an Open Air production of As You Like It, as Celia. Following this, Mbatha-Raw landed roles at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre. She performed in Antony and Cleopatra and played the title role of Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, which gained her a nomination for Best Actress for the Manchester Evening News Awards in 2005.
Mbatha-Raw’s other stage credits include the critically-acclaimed Big White Fog at the Almeida Theatre and Gethsemane, a production at the National Theatre that later toured the UK. She made her West End debut as Ophelia inHamlet opposite Jude Law; the production transferred to New York’s Broadhurst Theatre for a limited run and was a hit on Broadway in 2009.
Her television credits include Spooks, Dr Who, Marple – Ordeal by Innocence, Bonekickers and Fallout. It was for this latter role that she was selected as a 'Star of Tomorrow 2008' by industry magazine, Screen International. In 2010 she starred as Samantha Bloom in the NBC series,Undercovers, which gained her a nomination for an NAACP award for Best Actress in a Television Series.
In film, she worked with directors such as Dominic Savage and Dan Reed before landing her first major feature film. Larry Crowne, directed by Tom Hanks and co-starring Julia Roberts was released on July 1st, 2011.
In June 2011, Gugu landed the female lead as social worker Clea Hopkins opposite Kiefer Sutherland in the FOX series Touch. The cast also included Danny Glover and David Mazouz. The same summer, she was recognised at the BAFTA’s Brits To Watch event in Los Angeles.
Gugu starred alongside Willem Dafoe and Anton Yelchin in the Stephen Sommers directed film Odd Thomas, and then went on to play the title role in the period drama Belle, (Fox Searchlight) alongside Miranda Richardson, Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Sam Reid and Matthew Goode. The film was produced by Damian Jones and directed by Amma Asante. The role earned her nominations in two categories, Best Actress and Most Promising Newcomer at the British Independent Film Awards.
In 2013 she shot a role in Andy and Lana Wachowski’s Jupiter Ascending, which stars Channing Tatum, Mila Kunis and Eddie Redmayne. Warner Bros and Village Roadshow Pictures will release the film in February 2015. She went on to shoot The Whole Truth directed by Courtney Hunt alongside Keanu Reeves and Rene Zellweger.
Gugu stars alongside Minnie Driver, Nate Parker and Danny Glover in Beyond The Lights, a love story set in the LA music world directed by Gina Prince Bythewood which was released in the US on 14th November. The role has so far earned her a Best Actress Nomination at the Gotham Awards.
She is currently filming opposite Will Smith in a yet-to-be-titled drama about concussions in the NFL directed by Peter Landesman.
Jupiter Ascending (2015)
Beyond the Lights (2014)
Dido Elizabeth Belle
Dido Elizabeth Belle
Odd Thomas (2013)
Larry Crowne (2011)