December 21, 2021
  Posted by Mouza
  Feature, Gallery Update, Interview, Photoshoot

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is on a quest. For a cup of tea. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask: after all, it is mid-afternoon and we have met at the grandest hotel in San Francisco, the Fairmont, which sits atop Nob Hill. She has a word with the concierge who says that unfortunately tea is unavailable at this hour and advises us to try another hotel nearby. So off we go into the sunshine, Mbatha-Raw joking about how hopeless the Americans are at tea anyway: ‘You get hot water and a teabag on the side and they haven’t even taken it out of the wrapping.’

The next hotel, almost equally luxurious, seems to confirm this. ‘Tea?’ asks the host in the lobby café. ‘Of course.’ He directs us towards a hot-water dispenser and some paper cups. Mbatha-Raw and I look at each other, slightly aghast. ‘We’re so British,’ Mbatha-Raw explains politely. ‘Where can we just sit down and get tea?’

‘Ah yes,’ says the host, with just a flicker of a smile. ‘Have a seat and John will be over to serve you your tea.’

At last we are settled comfortably in a corner with a pot of Earl Grey and some milk on the side. The café is quite crowded but, although she is now one of the most high-profile British actresses in the US, Mbatha-Raw goes unnoticed. Dressed in faded grey jeans, a white shirt and a big yellow scarf, she does not draw attention to herself: ‘I’m living out of a suitcase at the moment, so [I just wear] what’s not too crumpled. Normally I’m top to toe in black, so you’ve got me on quite a bright day.’ She is especially pleased with her beige suede Isabel Marant boots. ‘I stole them from The Girl Before [her current BBC series]; they were for [somebody else’s character] and they didn’t fit. So I thought, “As no one’s wearing them…” Hilarious. I don’t often steal things from shows.’

People often can’t quite place her. ‘Sometimes they say, “You’re an actress, aren’t you? What have I seen you in?’ And it’s always cringey because it could be so many things and I don’t really want to stand there and list my whole CV and they’re going, “No, no, no…”’

It’s certainly an impressive CV. There was her breakout role in the award-winning period drama Belle, the riotous Misbehaviour with Keira Knightley, and the neo-noir crime drama Motherless Brooklyn with Alec Baldwin. (Mbatha-Raw and I meet a couple of weeks after he accidentally shot dead a cinematographer, which she describes as ‘a shocking tragedy’.) More recently, she has played celebrity wrangler Hannah in the Apple TV+ drama series The Morning Show, executive-produced by Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. And she stars in the 2021 Marvel TV series Loki with Tom Hiddleston, who was at Rada at the same time as Mbatha-Raw. [More at Source]

  December 21, 2021
  Posted by Mouza
  Feature, Gallery Update, Interview, Photoshoot

As those of us who have spent more time than usual at home over the last couple of years will know, those four walls can be a sanctuary, prison or, at times, both. Beautiful, monolithic and eerily empty, the house in the new BBC/HBO drama The Girl Before is definitely both. “The house,” says Gugu Mbatha-Raw with a laugh, “is the real star.” At one point in the first episode, Mbatha-Raw’s character Jane appears to have developed an intense relationship with it, caressing its smooth stone and glass.

In The Girl Before, adapted from the bestselling psychological thriller by JP Delaney, Jane passes a rigorous vetting process before being allowed to rent this minimalist dream home. In return for cheap rent, she has to agree to around 200 strange and stringent rules set by the architect and owner. “No books?” she says, incredulous, when the estate agent reels off some of the stipulations (no pictures, no ornaments, “no children, obviously”). Jane will be watched, her every move and metric monitored, even her moods influenced, by the technologically advanced house and its creepy creator. She soon finds out that she is the second tenant – and she makes a chilling discovery about the first, Emma (played by Jessica Plummer).

Mbatha-Raw does not seem so attached to houses. She bought one in Oxfordshire last year, but has barely had a chance to live there. She is, she says, “a nomad for work”. When we meet in a central London restaurant, Mbatha-Raw has not long returned from Vancouver where she was filming the lead role in Surface, a drama for Apple TV+. Before that, she was in Atlanta, filming the Marvel fantasy series Loki, in which she plays the judge Ravonna Renslayer. The fact that The Girl Before was so different to Loki appealed to her; from period drama to fantasy to Shakespeare to futuristic love stories (she starred in San Junipero, still regarded as the most uplifting episode of Black Mirror), Mbatha-Raw seems resistant to typecasting. “I’d never done a psychological thriller before,” she says, remembering when she read the script for The Girl Before. “I also loved the fact that it was female-driven; there wasn’t just one great female part, but two.”

Both Emma and Jane have a relationship with the architect-owner, Edward, played by David Oyelowo, who is extremely controlling (and quite possibly murderous). Control seems to be the main theme, not just in Edward’s abusive coercive control-type behaviour, but something all the characters are trying to wrestle with, often as a result of grief or loss. “I looked at it as a journey for Jane, getting her power back,” says Mbatha-Raw.

I can’t say I loved the book, with its nasty undercurrents and excruciatingly unsexy dialogue; Edward is not only extremely controlling, he is also a finickity bore, obsessed with limescale deposits and where his olive oil comes from. But if anyone can infuse him with grace and charisma, it’s Oyelowo, and the calibre of the team – not just the cast, but the director Lisa Brühlmann, who has directed episodes of Killing Eve – is reassuringly high.

Mbatha-Raw, in her first producing role, brought Oyelowo, who is a friend, on board. She was also a producer on Surface, which is being made by Reese Witherspoon’s production company, Hello Sunshine. The experience of being a producer, she says, has been interesting, “because, in some ways it validates the opinions or ideas that you may have, but perhaps it’s not your place to say, or you’re encouraged to stay in your lane as an actor.” Has she felt unable to speak up before? “Not personally,” she says. “I know other actors who have felt that way.” [More at Source]

  December 09, 2021
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Public Appearances

I’ve updated the gallery with photos of Gugu attending the British Independent Film Awards 2021 where she presented the Best Actor Award to Adeel Akhtar his role for Ali & Ava.

  December 09, 2021
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Public Appearances

I’ve updated the gallery with photos of Gugu attending the 30th Women In Film & Television Awards on December 3, 2021 in London, UK.

  December 09, 2021
  Posted by Mouza
  Television Projects, Video

  November 24, 2021
  Posted by Mouza
  Feature, Gallery Update, Interview, Photoshoot

In June 2020, amid the global Black Lives Matter movement, a three-page open letter began circulating across the U.K. film and TV industry with four commands from its signatories: Banish your weak excuses, be more demanding, expand your vision and empower Black and brown independent producers.

Modeled after a letter to Hollywood issued by New York’s Black TV & Film Collective, the U.K. dispatch was bold and unapologetic, ultimately garnering 5,010 signatures from the likes of Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Michaela Coel, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Colin Firth, Florence Pugh and other top talent.

It was, as Mbatha-Raw puts it, “so un-British.” In a good way.

The U.K. had its own reckoning with race following the murder of George Floyd on May 25 in America, and the local film and TV industry was quick to make declarations of allyship and engage in untold commitments. The letter presented a framework for the missing link: accountability.

“The Morning Show” star Mbatha-Raw was among a group of signatories of the letter — including actors, writers, producers, agents and casting directors — approached by Variety to reflect on how the equality-focused agenda around the Black Lives Matter movement and the demands made in the letter have manifested in their careers. From their vantage point, has it been a movement or merely a moment?

“I remember thinking, ‘There’s nothing polite about this [letter],’” recalls Mbatha-Raw, who was filming in the U.S. when she was sent the document through her U.K. agent. “It was assertive and demanding, and articulated things that have been very easy to generalize.”

In the past year, Mbatha-Raw — who will soon relocate from Los Angeles back to her home of Oxfordshire in the U.K. — has unlocked a new chapter in her career by accepting invitations to serve as a producer, first on the thriller series “The Girl Before,” in which she stars alongside David Oyelowo, and Apple TV Plus’ thriller “Surface” from Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine. The timing of these offers isn’t lost on her, and she’s eager to take them on.

“There is an awareness now that if you’re telling a story about women of color, there will be nuances and details in the story and how it’s put together where it’s valuable to have those voices and points of view helping to assemble the project,” says Mbatha-Raw. “I’m trying to be the change myself. I don’t think I’ve worked with any producers of color in the U.K., and that’s shocking to me.” [More at Source]

  June 14, 2021
  Posted by Mouza
  Feature, Gallery Update, Interview, Photoshoot


Whether she’s seeking out meaningful roles or dedicating her time to working closely with charities, finding a sense of purpose is what continues to drive GUGU MBATHA-RAW – both personally and professionally. Here, the British actor talks to AJESH PATALAY about her valiant new role in Marvel’s Disney+ series, Loki, and the work that sustains her spirit

You’ve got to hand it to Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Not only for landing the lead role in the hugely anticipated Disney+ series Loki, opposite Tom Hiddleston, but for having walked away from comparable superhero roles in the past. “There have been a few I’ve auditioned for and not got,” the 35-year-old actor tells me. “And one or two [that] I got and turned down.” Why was that? “Sometimes [the role] was so secretive, I was like, I’m not signing up to something where I don’t know what it is. Sometimes I wasn’t sure the character was going to have enough layers. Sometimes the tone of the piece just wasn’t to my taste: how the violence is depicted, how the women are represented. Those things are important to me.”

Loki was appealingly different, though. “For a start, it was exciting that Kate Herron was directing all six episodes,” Mbatha-Raw says of the writer-director who gained recognition for Netflix’s Sex Education. “Also, having been to drama school with Tom Hiddleston, there was a lovely circle of life about working on something together at this point.” Both studied at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, though Mbatha-Raw was in the year above (she graduated in 2004), so they didn’t share any classes. But the future God of Mischief still made an impression: “He was blond. Sort of angelic. He seemed very…” she casts around for the right description, “centered is probably the best word”. As for her, she was “a keen bean”, straight out of school, newly moved to London from Oxfordshire, where she grew up, and living her lifelong dream of becoming an actor.

The big clincher for Mbatha-Raw about Loki – which is based on Hiddleston’s character in the Thor and Avenger movies – was getting to play Ravonna Renslayer, a role with a rich and turbulent history in the comics. “It was very much pitched to me as her origin story,” Mbatha-Raw explains. “That was exciting, to be able to take ownership of a character pre the comics. She’s an authoritative character. Morally ambiguous. She has to make some difficult choices. I loved that there is a complexity to her that I hadn’t seen in any of the [superhero] roles that had come my way before.” [More at Source]

  April 17, 2021
  Posted by Mouza
  Feature, Gallery Update, Photoshoot

David Oyelowo: It’s so specific to be Black, British, of African descent, living in Los Angeles and working in Hollywood. I can count the people I know like that on one hand. Among them is Chiké, who is one of my best friends in the world. He’s been there for so many of the milestones in my life, and my kids consider him an uncle. Through him I met Gugu, and one of the things she and I bonded over is that we were both born in Oxford — at the same hospital. Gugu is one of the loveliest people I know, and one of the most humble and unassuming, especially considering how talented she is.

Aml and I found each other when he started to dip his toe in the L.A. scene. He has an entrepreneurial spirit that, to be perfectly honest, isn’t encouraged in British culture. I always felt like he would do great things, especially in the States. Malachi and I met through a program at BAFTA; he’s been my mentee for four or five years now. And I met Cynthia in L.A. She’s also of Nigerian descent, but we really bonded over the fact that when she was cast as Harriet Tubman in “Harriet” (2019), she got some flak because she was a Black British actress playing an African-American icon. I experienced some of that when I played Dr. King in “Selma” (2014), so I became a sounding board for her.

These are friends with whom I share an outlook on life and interests, whether it’s our faith, our culture or our aspirations. To be Black in America is to sometimes feel gaslit, so it’s important to have people around you who get it, who help you remember that you’re not crazy. And then, of course, central to any great friendship is encouraging one another, cheerleading from the sidelines and really making sure the people you love see how you see them.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Chiké, who is one of my oldest friends, introduced me to David on my first trip to L.A. around 2010. I remember going to David’s house, getting frozen yogurt in Sherman Oaks with his kids and his wife and thinking, “This is amazing — they seem so normal and cool!” He was one of the first Black British actors I met in the States, and it was nice to have a friend in the industry with whom I had a shared cultural experience. Cynthia and I were both at RADA, though at completely different times, so that’s the connective tissue there. And Aml and I worked together when we were 20 and 22, respectively, on the TV movie “Fallout” (2008), and again on the film “Beyond the Lights” (2014). It was such a great experience. And we kept in touch. Even if you’re not working together, it’s wonderful to have someone to call for advice and support. [more at source]

  April 14, 2021
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Public Appearances

Gugu hit the the town a few days ago and walked her first red carpet of the year by attending the 74th British Academy Film Awards. Gugu looked gorgeous in a Louis Vuitton dress and shoes, Messika jewelry and a Simone Rocha bag. Check out the video below for her segment presenting with her Loki co-star Tom Hiddleston.

  April 05, 2021
  Posted by Mouza
  Television Projects, Video