Who is Gugu Mbatha-Raw?
Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha, better known as Gugu Mbatha-Raw, is a famous British film and stage actress who gained popularity after she starred in the ‘Doctor Who’ (a British science-fiction TV show) series aired on the BBC channel. Gugu achieved a lot of fame by appearing as Tish Jones, the sister of a major character called Martha Jones, in the series. The audience loved her cheerful spontaneity and there was no turning back for Gugu from a successful acting career ahead! She has also worked in several other British stage and television productions till date. She is critically acclaimed for her stellar performance in ‘Belle’ (2013), a British period drama and ‘Beyond the Lights’ (2014), a romantic drama. She has even appeared in various American productions like ‘Larry Crowne’, a Tom Hanks comedy film and TV shows like the ‘Undercover’, and ‘Touch.’ In 2015, Gugu Mbatha-Raw played the lead role in ‘Nell Gwynn’, a play by Jessica Swale, as a character who was an actress and also the mistress of King Charles II of England and Scotland. She received a lot of appreciation from critics who were very pleased with her acting skills, and she went on to be nominated for the prestigious ‘Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress’ award. As a great honor for her services to drama, Gugu was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.
After graduating from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in 2004, Gugu Mbatha-Raw entered the world of media and entertainment. She started off her career in the entertainment industry with small roles in television programs like ‘Bad Girls’ (2006), ‘Doctor Who’ (2007) and ‘Maple’ (2007).
On the stage, she gave her breakthrough performance as Juliet in ‘Romeo and Juliet’ (2005) at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, with Andrew Garfield playing the part of the other protagonist (Romeo). Gugu received a nomination for a Best Actress award in the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards for the excellent portrayal of the iconic character of Juliet. Moreover, she also delivered a beautiful performance as Octavia in the ‘Antony and Cleopatra’ play in the same year and the same theatre.
In 2009, she was cast as Ophelia in ‘Hamlet’ and she acted brilliantly opposite Jude Law as the protagonist, at both the Broadway and West End in London. This role proved to be helpful for Gugu as she was selected as a part of the ‘Undercovers’, a J.J. Abrams’ TV series, after he spotted at the theatre and liked her confidence.
In 2011, Gugu landed a great role as the lead actress in ‘Touch’, a TV series on Fox Channel, working along with Kiefer Sutherland. Coming to films, Gugu garnered a dedicated fan following owning to her enigmatic presence in Amma Asante’s film ‘Belle’ in 2013. After the film’s premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, Gugu received various accolades and nominations and she was declared the winner of the British Independent Film Award for the ‘Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film’.
In 2014, she starred in ‘Beyond the Lights,’ a romantic drama film, as a popular singer for which she was nominated for Best Actress at the 2014 Gotham Awards. In 2015, she appeared in a biopic called ‘Concussion’, as the character Mr. Bennet Omalu’s wife. Gugu played Rachel in the biopic ‘Free State of Jones’ in 2016, which had Gary Ross as the director. She is also famous for playing Esme Manucharian in ‘Miss Sloane’ (2016), Sophie in ‘Easy’ (2016), Kelly in ‘Black Mirror’ (2011) and Plumette in ‘Beauty and the Beast’ (2017).
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Gugu Mbatha-Raw was born on 21 April 1983 to Patrick Mbatha and Anne Raw, a South African doctor and an English nurse respectively. Her parents got divorced when she was just a year old and she grew up with her mother in Witney, Oxfordshire, though she still shares a close bond with her father. Gugu’s forename is a shortened version of “Gugulethu”, which is derived from “igugu lethu” that means “our treasure” in the Zulu language.
She expressed an interest in acting when she was just a child and joined a local acting group called the Dramascope and started performing at the Oxford Playhouse pantomime from the age of eleven. She also learnt dancing at the Judy Tompsett School of Dance. Gugu joined the Oxford Youth Music Theatre in order to hone her skills as an actor, singer, and dancer. In 2001, she enrolled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art after winning a scholarship.
She is a very private person and keeps details of her love life under wraps. She was once said to be dating actor Harry Llyod but they broke up later on.