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
“I’m a very cheerful person,” says Mbatha-Raw, “but I do enjoy the tragedy in stories.”
You can see Mbatha-Raw’s serious side in her choice of roles. The half-South African thespian — her first name is short for Gugulethu, which means “our pride” in Xhosa — is shooting Gina Pryce-Bythewood’s “Blackbird,” in which she plays a pop princess whose troubled life reveals the dark underbelly of the music industry. Her starring role in Fox Searchlight’s upcoming “Belle” focuses on a woman who helped overturn slavery laws in late 18th century England.
“What unites Belle and Blackbird is themes of identity,” she says. “They’re totally different worlds, but they do share a common story: they are both about young women trying to find their place in the world.”
After studying acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art — she calls the intensive three-year course “a baptism by fire” — her most formative early roles include Juliet at the Royal Exchange in Manchester opposite Andrew Garfield’s Romeo. “It was a great training ground, technically and emotionally,” she says. Another early influential role was on Channel 4’s “Fallout,” in which she played a poor teenage girl with a violent boyfriend. “It was the first time that I got to play a layered, conflicted woman,” she says. “It’s something I really look forward in all my roles.”
Indeed, her dream parts include Cleopatra and Billie Holiday — the latter of whom she’s drawn to because of the ill-fated singer’s “dark and soulful journey,” she says.