Archive for the ‘Photoshoot’ Category
  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]

  August 06, 2020
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Interview, Photoshoot

Since her breakthrough role in 2013’s Belle, Gugu Mbatha-Raw has made a career out of playing forward-thinking and boundary-breaking characters. As a mixed-race woman unwilling to conform to the aristocracy in 18th-century England, the British actress brought tenderness and toughness to the role, qualities she has carried through to other performances, such as the troubled pop star she played in 2014’s Beyond the Lights and the outgoing party girl Kelly in Black Mirror’s beloved episode “San Junipero.” In her latest role, as Vera in Jessica Swale’s Summerland, Mbatha-Raw takes on yet another period drama, exploring the limits of love and relationships during World War II. As she tells her friend and “San Junipero” co-star Mackenzie Davis, portraying well-rounded, multifaceted romantic characters—most of whom occupy spaces they weren’t created for them—is inherently radical, but also necessary. Below, the two actors discuss the lasting impact of their cinematic love story, traveling back in time to bring women forward, and the annoying task of explaining why they’re drawn to strong, political, rebellious parts.

———

MACKENZIE DAVIS: Hi, how are you doing?

GUGU MBATHA-RAW: Oh my god! I’m good, how are you?

DAVIS: I’m good. Are you still in L.A.?

MBATHA-RAW: I’m still in L..A. Where are you?

DAVID: I’m in Canada.

MBATHA-RAW: I mean it’s such a strange time, isn’t it? I may see if I can pop home at some point, too. I just think being home in a pandemic, being in your home culture, is soul-nourishing. We’ll see, watch this space.

DAVIS: I had such a nice day yesterday. I did a Gugu double feature. I watched Summerland and followed it with Belle.

MBATHA-RAW: You’ve basically been in England for a whole day. You just went historically down the rabbit hole.

DAVIS: It was a nice historical and geographical spread of the English countryside and London in WWII.

MBATHA-RAW: Thank you, friend, for committing to that much screen time with me.

DAVIS: I kind of struggle to watch my friends work sometimes. If I know them, I don’t rush out to see their work. It’s nice to have a reason, because I love you and I admire you and the choices you make. Do you have that at all with other actors?

MBATHA-RAW: I love seeing things in the cinema. I’m not so good at watching whole TV shows. I usually just watch the finale. Like, “It’s great—I’ve got the gist.” If my friends are on long-running things, I’m not great at keeping up. I trust that they are doing amazing work.

DAVIS: I feel the same way. First of all, I hate it when someone interviews me—I bristle at the psychoanalysis that goes into finding patterns in my work. I don’t know why I do things. But I think it’s interesting that you, and there are always exceptions to this, but in a lot of your work you play these very modern women who feel out of their time. You work a lot in period dramas and you often occupy this space of moving the conversation forward, either explicitly through demanding the conversation to be moved forward, or just existing in a space at a time when people would like you to apologize for being queer or female, or Black in an all-white, all-male space. I want to hear you talk about why you think modern Gugu time travels to bring women forward. [More at Source]

  July 06, 2020
  Posted by Mouza
  Feature, Gallery Update, Interview, Photoshoot

Friends Gugu Mbatha-Raw MBE and Amma Asante MBE first worked together on the acclaimed and multi-award-winning, 2013 period drama film Belle, which Asante directed and Mbatha-Raw starred in as Dido Elizabeth Belle. Dubbed Britain’s ‘first Black aristocrat’, Belle was the mixed race, illegitimate daughter of a naval officer, Sir John Lindsay, and an enslaved African woman named Maria Bell. In 1772, Belle’s great-uncle, Lord Mansfield, in his capacity as Lord Chief Justice, ruled that slavery had no precedent in common law in England. The film’s themes feel particularly pertinent in this politically charged climate, which saw a statue of 17th-century slave trader, Edward Colston, toppled in Bristol at the height of the Black Lives Matter protests in the UK. 

Since then, Mbatha-Raw has forged a critically lauded career built on championing strong, Black female narratives. She starred in the first-ever $100m film to be helmed by an African-American woman, Ava DuVernay’s Wrinkle In Time in 2018. She also portrayed the first Black Miss World – Jennifer Hosten, ‘Miss Grenada’ – in Misbehaviour, and received much awards attention for the Apple TV+ hit, The Morning Show. Now, Mbatha-Raw is set to release World War II movie Summerland by Olivier Award-winning playwright, Jessica Swale, as well as the Marvel series Loki, alongside Tom Hiddleston.

Although other upcoming projects may have taken a hiatus due to COVID-19, Mbatha-Raw has been spending her enforced period of inactivity avidly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. Via the Instagram-based venture, Still We Rise, she has been auctioning her own artworks of two African Americans who tragically lost their lives to police violence, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Proceeds go to charities that support social justice, including Black Lives Matter, Equal Justice Initiative, Movement for Black Lives and the Bail Project.

Ahead of the release of Summerland, the Black British powerhouses – Mbatha-Raw in LA and Asante in Denmark – caught up during the last few days of lockdown. Their frank and personal conversation encompasses protests, Britain’s past and, at this very necessary junction, their prescient hopes for the future.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw: ‘When I saw the statue of Edward Colston being pulled down, I was thinking, “My gosh, if Belle was to come out now, would it be received in a different way?”’

Amma Asante: ‘I sincerely think it would be received in a way that it should have in the first place. The film was about love in so many ways, but it was actually also asking some very powerful questions about today. When I saw that statue being pulled down, I unfortunately couldn’t hide my excitement on social media. My delight was evident.’

GMR: ‘I don’t agree with the statues being glorified, obviously. But I also think that we can’t erase the past. I think you have to be able to know the scars of history to learn from it. If there hadn’t been a painting of Belle, then we wouldn’t have known about her.’

AA: ‘That was the evidence of who she was.’

GMR: ‘And we still need the evidence – we can’t erase all the negative, and then it just disappears and we forget what happened.’

AA: ‘I think we should put them where they belong, which is in museums. Once these relics are put in museums, then more nuanced conversations can occur. If you are Black, walking through your town centre and your four-year-old daughter says, “Who’s he? Why is he up there?”, how do you explain it?’

GMR: ‘There’s no context. I think that’s the thing about at least putting it in a museum.’

AA: ‘It’s so important to how we understand who we are. To own who we have been is the only way to truly be able to celebrate the things that are worth celebrating and change the things that weren’t. I hope that is where the conversations will land us.’ [More at Source]

  March 02, 2020
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Photoshoot

 

Opening the 1970 Miss World contest, the presenter Bob Hope was in a particularly ebullient mood. “I’m very, very happy to be here at this cattle market…” he leered to the tittering audience. “Moooooo!”

His enjoyment was short-lived; moments later, the clatter of a football rattle resounded around the Royal Albert Hall, and the stage was invaded by outraged women protestors, hurling flour and stink bombs. They forced the obnoxious Hope to flee from the set and disrupted the BBC’s broadcast in what has come to be seen as a watershed moment for feminism.

“I watched the whole ceremony and it’s shocking, particularly the bit where the women all have to turn round to show their bottoms…” says Gugu Mbatha-Raw, over lunch at a smart Marylebone restaurant. “It definitely makes you realise quite how far we’ve come.”

This particular Miss World contest is the subject of Gugu’s thought-provoking new drama, Misbehaviour. She takes the role of Jennifer Hosten, who, as Miss Grenada, became the first black woman to win the Miss World crown. “I came to [the part] with an air of judgement, of, oh, you know, beauty queens,” she admits, “but I’ve become more open-minded as to what that represents. I think it’s very easy now to look back and say, ‘Why would you do that? It’s so superficial.’ What’s interesting is that rebellion can often be a luxury.” For her research into the film, Gugu visited Grenada to talk to Hosten. “She’s in her seventies now, and she’s got such a regal presence, such posture, these bright, bright eyes – she’s very demure, quite proper but very centred.
“It was amazing to meet her and find out about a moment in her life all that time ago that really informed all her opportunities and choices. She felt like she was an ambassador for her country, and she was breaking boundaries in her own way.” Hosten went on to be appointed Grenada’s High Commissioner to Canada. Meanwhile, just a few days before we meet, the Miss World title is awarded to Toni-Ann Singh of Jamaica, meaning that in 2019, for the first time ever, all major beauty titles have been won by black women. “Optics are so powerful: who gets to be celebrated?” says Gugu.

Distractingly beautiful herself, and appearing far younger than her 36 years, Gugu has an unselfconscious freshness that could not be further from a beauty queen’s manicured perfection. She has come to our lunch straight from a yoga class and arrives dressed down in a monochrome ensemble of jeans, a scarf and an embellished rollneck from Sézane. “This is as jazzy as I normally get,” she confesses. “My wardrobe is mostly black because I dress up for a living, and it makes me feel calm and neutral.

The waiter, who can clearly recognise star quality when he sees it, rushes up with a menu, and she studies it with frank delight, eventually settling on potato ravioli and sea-bass with champagne sauce, and diving for the bread basket. “Ooh! It’s warm!” she exclaims, then complains vociferously about the inadequate dinner served at a celebrity event we both attended recently.

In short, Gugu is one of those rare people to whom it is easy to warm immediately. Perhaps this attribute is why she doesn’t always shy away from less sympathetic roles; on the contrary, she appears to revel in them. “You can’t always be the goodie everyone’s rooting for,” she says, laughing. [More on Source]

  December 17, 2019
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Interview, Photoshoot

If it seems like you’re seeing Gugu Mbatha-Raw everywhere lately, it isn’t your imagination. This past fall, the actress was on the promotional trail for not just one but two acting projects, which, in the perfect confluence of events, were both released on the same day, November 1.

In Motherless Brooklyn, directed by Edward Norton, she plays Laura, an activist lawyer in 1950s New York City, in an adaptation of Jonathan Lethem’s detective novel. The film, which stars Norton, Alec Baldwin, and Willem Dafoe, was shot in Harlem and has a jazzy, noir sensibility that Mbatha-Raw was eager to sink her teeth into. “It’s a genre that is so cool and isn’t often done,” she says.

The actress related to the contemporary themes of the film and the strong role, which Norton added for her. “Laura is an activist in her community; she’s not your typical 1950s housewife or heroine,” she says. “She’s so layered and a real underdog.” You may remember the 36-year-old Royal Academy of Dramatic Art–trained English actress from the short-lived J.J. Abrams television series Undercovers and the British sci-fi series Black Mirror, but she broke into film five years ago in the period independent movie Belle and played a pop star in Beyond the Lights. And now she’s made the jump into the big leagues with these starring roles.

Her other project, Apple TV+’s first series, The Morning Show, has no shortage of huge stars, either, including Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell. It was Mbatha-Raw’s second time working with Witherspoon in a female-led project. (They briefly worked together in 2018’s A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay.)

“It’s so special to work with Reese on this show,” Mbatha-Raw says. “I’m so impressed by what she’s built with her production company and what an amazing group of actors she’s assembled. She’s such a generous artist and is leading the way in terms of female storytelling.”

The actress was in the midst of shooting Misbehaviour (a film that follows the 1970 Miss World pageant in London, which saw the crowning of the first black winner) and jumped right into filming Apple’s television show-within-a-show in New York City. She did, however, have time to jet to Aniston’s cast party, held at her Los Angeles home before they began filming, and bonded with English costar Bel Powley on set. The show, in which she plays Hannah, a booker for a popular morning TV show, focuses on the drama between the anchors and crew behind the scenes, with a #MeToo plotline. “It’s so relatable for our time,” she says. “It really gets under the skin of that conversation.” Her Hannah is ruthless, ambitious, and disciplined. “I really enjoyed exploring the cost of ambition and the wear and tear of the New York media world. Hannah has such an interesting dramatic arc.” [More at Source]

  November 16, 2019
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Interview, Photoshoot

After introductions, we chat briefly about her latest projects and she starts laughing at my cellphone. But in a nice way. “Do you need me to call Apple for you?” she teases.

See, my phone doesn’t look like a grown-up’s cellphone. It looks like someone took a rock hammer to its upper-right-hand corner, shattering the glass and exposing a mysterious chunk of metal that I pretend is a battery but seems potentially dangerous. Cracks, like crooked sunbeams, cascade down my screen from there, and little dead spots, like burn marks, have recently appeared all over it. My phone doesn’t just look injured; it looks sickly.

“Do I need to sort this out?” she asks.

She probably could, too. After all, she’s basically an employee of Apple these days. Her latest project—or one of her latest projects, actually—is The Morning Show, an original 10-episode series for the tech giant’s new streaming service, Apple TV+. Starring Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell, it takes people inside and behind the scenes of a Good Morning America-type talk show. In it, Mbatha-Raw’s character works as the show’s celebrity wrangler. But with Apple being Apple, she says she can’t explain much more than that.

But the character really is more than she seems. “She has a lot of secrets,” says Mbatha-Raw. “What I like about it is that it has a strong point of view and [tackles] the post-#MeToo era in the media landscape. Plus, it’s America’s sweethearts together in one show. I knew it was going to be amazing and have something to say.”

She can talk a little bit more about Motherless Brooklyn, the Edward Norton passion project about a private detective with Tourette’s syndrome (which can make sneaking around a little tough). It’s a kind of spiritual adaptation of a Jonathan Lethem novel, which is handy for Mbatha-Raw since her character isn’t in the book. “My character comes up as this Woman in Blue that Norton’s detective character is following. She was born in Harlem and grew up in the jazz club owned by her dad. And she works for the community against racial discrimination in housing. She has a law degree. Suddenly she has these layers to her—she’s not just a femme fatale. She has a purpose. She is much more than meets the eye.” [More at Source]

  April 21, 2018
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Interview, Photoshoot

Gugu Mbatha-Raw is high on life. I can hear the smile in her voice when she picks up the phone—her joy bubbles over the line, and it’s wholly warranted.

The last seven days marked a frenzy of career highs for the 34-year-old Brit: the surprise Netflix release of her latest film, The Cloverfield Paradox, was the talk of the Super Bowl; she joined the cast of the Edward Norton-directed Motherless Brooklyn alongside Willem Dafoe and Bruce Willis; and she premiered her other Netflix movie, a heartbreaker of a romantic dramedy titled Irreplaceable You, in New York.

Oh, and last Friday, she became a member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace (MBE). Casual. “We’ve been joking that I’ve been working on my damehood since I was 12,” she tells BAZAAR.com, laughing. “I’ve had one rung, three rungs down from a dame, so I’ve still got some more to go.”

It’s not difficult to imagine Mbatha-Raw walking in the footsteps of famous thespian dames like Judi Dench, Helen Mirren, and Harriet Walter. She, too, got her start on the stage before establishing herself through starring roles in Amma Asante’s Belle, Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights, last year’s Disney mega-hit Beauty and the Beast, and a critically-acclaimed, Emmy-winning episode of Black Mirror.

But these triumphs merely set the stage for a year poised to shoot Mbatha-Raw to the highest rung of superstardom. Though critics panned the Julius Onah-directed Cloverfield Paradox, it’s worth a watch for Mbatha-Raw’s performance alone. She commands the screen, no easy feat alongside talents such as David Oyelowo, Daniel Brühl, and Elizabeth Debicki. And that’s merely the start of a string of highly-anticipated projects including the Ava DuVernay-directed A Wrinkle in Time, which is set to claim another box office victory for Mbatha-Raw when it hits theaters March 9.

Below, the actress opens up about her big week, venturing into STEM with her latest projects, and the fairytale Cloverfield moment that led to her casting in A Wrinkle in Time. [More at Source]

  April 15, 2018
  Posted by Mouza
  Digital Scans, Gallery Update, Interview, Photoshoot

   

Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s acting portfolio boasts roles like a bonnet-wearing 18th-century aristocrat in Belle, a violet-haired pop star in Beyond the Lights, and a futuristic astronaut in The Cloverfield Paradox, to name a few. It’s impossible to predict whom the 35-year-old is going to play next—and that’s just how she likes it. “No one wants to be stuck in a box,” Mbatha-Raw says. “I have a short attention span and want to keep myself interested. Variety is the spice of life, and I never want to get bored.”

At our New York City shoot, she is in full-on storytelling mode, assigning personalities to the many hats she tries on. An oversize green Mulberry topper is “very My Fair Lady,” a straw-bow Delpozo style is appropriately dubbed Minnie Mouse, and a wide-brimmed Elie Saab design is so “Anne of Green Gables” that Mbatha-Raw jokes she should go get some honey from her bees as she poses.

There’s no doubt that Mbatha-Raw loves what she refers to as the dress-up element of getting into character, but when it comes to her hair and makeup, she prefers to keep things simple. “I feel most beautiful when I’m not being perceived as beautiful,” she says over coffee in Brooklyn a few days after our shoot. “If I’m not thinking about what I look like, then I’m just happy and free to be myself.” Growing up in rural Oxfordshire, “a million miles away from Hollywood or any big city,” she was raised by her English mom, a nurse, and her South African dad, a doctor, to “nurture the soul, spirit, and intelligence rather than the exterior.” That notion has stuck with Mbatha-Raw, so it’s been a process for her to accept the value placed on appearance in the entertainment industry. “I’ve had to come to terms with the concept of beauty without judging it as a vacuous thing,” she says. “My image is part of my job, but I’m getting more comfortable with knowing that it doesn’t define who I am or mean that I’m a superficial person. It’s about expressing yourself.” [More at Source]

  March 21, 2018
  Posted by Mouza
  Gallery Update, Photoshoot

   

Late last year, Gugu Mbatha-Raw received a phone call from her mother. A letter had arrived at the family home in Witney, Oxfordshire. It wasn’t in just any old envelope; this bore a seal, and the words “Her Majesty’s Service”. Mbatha-Raw giggled down the line from Los Angeles. “Mother!’ she said. “It’s the damehood!”

The truth’s not so far removed: when we meet for lunch in London in January, Mbatha-Raw is fresh from a trip to Buckingham Palace to collect an MBE. “It was incredible,” she says sounding wistful, slightly in awe. “A chamber orchestra performed, sun streamed through the windows. Afterwards there was champagne and photos. It felt like a very posh graduation.” Still, if you think she’s wide-eyed about it, you should see her parents: “I think they’re more impressed than they would be if I won an Oscar.”

Awards season and its role in celebrating, or at least promoting, issues of diversity and equality is everywhere when we speak. “As much as people may be critical of those zeitgeisty moments, they have changed awareness,” she says. “Producers and casting directors have had to interrogate their choices, and it’s the same with the women’s movement: people are now calling out who’s not in the room, who’s not represented.”

In many ways, she observes, we’re repurposing awards ceremonies now. As protests? “Yeah, and that’s a good thing. I think we should be using them as ways to have discussions, rather than just treating them as shiny ego boosts for the industry. Because at some point, you have to ask: ‘What are these pats on the back for?’” [More at Source]