Archive for Interview
06 August 2020Posted by Mouza with 0 Comments
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]
06 July 2020Posted by Mouza with 0 Comments
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]
23 June 2020Posted by Mouza with 0 Comments
10 March 2020Posted by Mouza with 0 Comments
Gugu was featured on Gucci’s podcast in an episode that was released last week, the synopsis is as follow:
In celebration of International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month, actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw MBE joins in conversation with activist and writer Scarlett Curtis.
Together these remarkable women dive into their thoughts on feminism, ongoing cultural and global issues, and touch on why Gugu is drawn to roles that start conversations more than others. Listen to this remarkable female duo question the process of categorising oneself, expectations for actors to be activists and the importance of starting new dialogue.
17 December 2019Posted by Mouza with 0 Comments
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]
16 November 2019Posted by Mouza with 0 Comments
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]