Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha-Raw MBE (/ˈɡɡ əmˈbɑːtərɔː/;[1][2] born 21 April 1983) is an English actress, known for her roles as Kelly in Black Mirror, Dido Elizabeth Belle in Belle, Noni Jean in Beyond the Lights, Plumette in the live-action adaptation of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, and Hannah Shoenfeld in The Morning Show on Apple TV+.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Mbatha-Raw in September 2013
Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha-Raw

(1983-04-21) 21 April 1983
Years active2004–present

Working in British television and stage productions, she began a recurring role in the Doctor Who series as Tish Jones, sister of Martha Jones. She garnered attention in American productions, beginning with a supporting role in the Tom Hanks comedy Larry Crowne, and starring roles on the short-lived television series Undercovers and Touch. She earned critical acclaim for her performances in the British period drama Belle (2013) and the romantic drama Beyond the Lights (2014), receiving numerous accolade nominations from critics worldwide.

In 2015, Mbatha-Raw premiered the title role in Jessica Swale's play Nell Gwynn, an actress and mistress of King Charles II of England and Scotland.[3] She was nominated for an Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performance.[4] Her performance as Kelly in the critically acclaimed "San Junipero", an episode in season three of the anthology series Black Mirror, was highly praised.

Early life

Gugulethu Sophia Mbatha-Raw was born on 21 April 1983[5][6][7] in Oxford, the daughter of Patrick Mbatha, a South African doctor, and Anne Raw, an English nurse. She grew up in Witney. Her first name is a contraction of igugu lethu, which means "our pride" in Zulu.

Interested in acting, dance, and musical theatre from a young age, Mbatha-Raw attended the Henry Box School and participated in the National Youth Theatre. Her credits include dancing at the Judy Tompsett School of Dance, now known as the Marsh Tompsett School of Dance.[8] In 2001, she moved to London to train at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. During her time as a student she worked at the newly opened attraction, The London Eye.


Early career

Mbatha-Raw played minor roles on television series such as Bad Girls (2006), Doctor Who (2007) and Marple (2007). One of her earliest breakthroughs in drama was in Romeo and Juliet at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester in 2005, playing Juliet opposite Andrew Garfield as Romeo.[9] Mbatha-Raw was nominated for best actress in the Manchester Evening News Theatre Awards for her portrayal of Juliet. She also appeared as Octavia in Antony and Cleopatra at the same theatre in 2005.[10]

In 2009, Mbatha-Raw was cast as Ophelia in Hamlet on London's West End and Broadway, opposite Jude Law as the title role[11] In September 2010, she was cast in J. J. Abrams' television series Undercovers, after he spotted her in Hamlet. The series was cancelled two months later.[12][13]

In June 2011, Mbatha-Raw was cast as the female lead on the Fox television series Touch opposite Kiefer Sutherland.[14] She had a supporting role in the romantic comedy Larry Crowne (2011), written and directed by Tom Hanks, who starred in the title role.[15] She was also named one of 42 Brits to Watch by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.[16]


Mbatha-Raw garnered praise starring in Amma Asante's film Belle (2013), playing the eponymous historical character, Dido Elizabeth Belle, a mixed-race woman raised as a gentlewoman in her paternal uncle Chief Justice Mansfield's household in 18th-century England.[17][18]

The film debuted at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival where it was acquired by Fox Searchlight Pictures. It was released in 2014. Mbatha-Raw was nominated for numerous awards for her performance, including two British Independent Film Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film, which she won, and Most Promising Newcomer. She was also nominated for a Satellite Award for Best Actress.

In 2014, Mbatha-Raw also starred as a popular singer in the romantic drama Beyond the Lights. The film debuted at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival. For her work in Beyond the Lights, Mbatha-Raw was nominated for Best Actress at the 2014 Gotham Awards.[19]

In 2014, Mbatha-Raw was recognized by Elle Magazine during the Women in Hollywood Awards, honoring women for their outstanding achievements in film. These awards span all aspects of the motion picture industry, including acting, directing and producing.[20]

In recognition of her body of work, Mbatha-Raw was nominated in 2015 for a BAFTA Rising Star Award. That year, she had a supporting role in the space opera Jupiter Ascending.[21]

On 3 July 2015, it was announced that Mbatha-Raw would be the first to play the title role in Jessica Swale's Nell Gwynn playing the actress who became the mistress of King Charles II of England; it premiered at Shakespeare's Globe from 19 September to 17 October 2015.[22] She was nominated for an Evening Standard Theatre Award for Best Actress for her performance.[4]

Also in 2015, she appeared in the biopic Concussion, starring Will Smith. It is the story of Dr. Bennet Omalu, the forensic neuropathologist who first discovered extensive brain damage in NFL players due to concussions, and tried to put a stop to practices that contributed to the condition. She played Prema Mutiso, the wife of Dr. Omalu.[23] The film premiered at the 2015 AFI Festival.

Mbatha-Raw starred opposite Matthew McConaughey in an American biopic on Newton Knight, a yeoman farmer and resister of the Confederacy, in Free State of Jones (2016), directed by Gary Ross. She plays Knight's common-law wife Rachel, a freedwoman he had a family with after the Civil War.[24]

In 2016, Mbatha-Raw appeared in "San Junipero", an episode of the anthology series Black Mirror,[25] and played a major supporting role in Miss Sloane, a drama about Washington lobbyists, starring Jessica Chastain. The film premiered at the AFI Film Festival in November.[26]

In 2017, Mbatha-Raw played Plumette in the live-action adaptation of Beauty and the Beast, directed by Bill Condon and co-starring with Emma Watson and Dan Stevens.[27]

In 2018, Mbatha-Raw starred in a number of science fiction feature productions, including A Wrinkle in Time, directed by Ava DuVernay, and The Cloverfield Paradox. The latter film made history that year, with a marketing campaign that saw the film's release onto the streaming platform Netflix, directly after it was advertised worldwide at the 2018 Super Bowl.[28] Mbatha-Raw also played in an independent feature film Fast Color, which premiered worldwide at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Texas.[29]

Director Gina Prince-Bythewood announced in March 2016 that Mbatha-Raw would star in her adaptation of Roxane Gay's novel An Untamed State.[30] Which she will film later in 2018.[31]

Mbatha-Raw was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the June 2017 Birthday Honours for services to drama.[32]



Year Title Role Notes
2007StraightheadsYoung PA
2011Larry CrowneTalia
2012Odd ThomasViola Peabody
2013BelleDido Elizabeth Belle
2014Beyond the LightsNoni Jean
2015Jupiter AscendingFamulus
ConcussionPrema Mutiso
2016Free State of JonesRachel Knight
The Whole TruthJanelle
Miss SloaneEsme Manucharian
2017Beauty and the BeastPlumette
2018The Cloverfield ParadoxAva Hamilton
Irreplaceable YouAbbie
A Wrinkle in TimeDr. Kate Murry
Fast ColorRuth
FarmingMs. Dapo
2019Motherless BrooklynLaura Rose
2020Come AwayAdult AlicePost-production
MisbehaviourJennifer HostenPost-production


Year Title Role Notes
2004Holby CityCollette HillEpisode: "Overload"
2005Walk Away and I StumbleNurseTelevision film
2006Vital SignsEve5 episodes
Bad GirlsFidelity Saunders2 episodes
SpooksJenny9 episodes
2007Doctor WhoTish Jones4 episodes
Agatha Christie's MarpleTina ArgyleEpisode: "Ordeal by Innocence"
2008Lost in AustenPiranha2 episodes
BonekickersViv Davis6 episodes
Trial & RetributionJenny MillerEpisode: "The Box: Part 1"
2009FalloutShanice RobertsTelevision film
2010UndercoversSamantha BloomMain role; 13 episodes
2012TouchClea Hopkins[33]13 episodes (season 1)
2016EasySophieEpisode: "Chemistry Read", "She's Back"
Black MirrorKellyEpisode: "San Junipero"
2019The Morning ShowHannah Shoenfeld10 episodes
The Dark Crystal: Age of ResistanceSeladon (voice)Netflix Series


Year Title Role Venue Notes
1999Into the WoodsCinderella's Mother (u/s Rapunzel)National Youth Music Theatre
2004Car thievesMóniBirmingham Rep
2005Antony and CleopatraIras/OctaviaRoyal Exchange in Manchester
Romeo and JulietJuliet CapuletRoyal Exchange in ManchesterOpposite Andrew Garfield
2008GethsemaneMoniqueNational Theatre
2009–10HamletOpheliaDonmar West End and BroadwayOpposite Jude Law
2015Nell GwynnNell GwynnShakespeare's Globe


Year Title Role Notes
2006Living with the EnemySophie/VariousBBC Radio 4, broadcast 14 November – 19 December 2006
2009Choice of StrawsMichelleBBC Radio 4, The Saturday Play, broadcast on 19 September 2009

Awards and nominations

Year Association Award Work Result
2011 NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series Undercovers Nominated
2012 Black Reel Awards Best Breakthrough Performance Larry Crowne Nominated
2014 Miami International Film Festival SIGNIS Award Belle Won
Chicago International Film Festival Emerging Artist Award Beyond the Lights Won
British Independent Film Awards Best Performance by an Actress in a British Independent Film Belle Won
Best Newcomer Nominated
African-American Film Critics Association Best Actress Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Most Promising Performer Nominated
Women's Image Network Awards Actress in a Feature Film Nominated
Gotham Independent Film Awards Best Actress Beyond the Lights Nominated
Detroit Film Critics Society Breakthrough Film Artist Nominated
Florida Film Critics Circle Pauline Kael Breakout Award 2nd place
Village Voice Film Poll Best Actress 9th place
Capri Hollywood International Film Festival Rising Star Won
2015 BAFTA Awards BAFTA Rising Star Award N/A Nominated
London Film Critics' Circle British Actress of the Year Belle Nominated
NAACP Image Awards Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
Satellite Award Best Actress in a Motion Picture Nominated
Black Reel Awards Best Actress Won
Beyond the Lights Nominated
International Online Film Critics' Poll Best Actress Nominated
Georgia Film Critics Association Breakthrough Awards Nominated
Empire Awards Best Female Newcomer Belle Nominated
Alliance of Women Film Journalists Best Breakthrough Performance Won
2016 NAACP Image Awards NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Concussion Nominated
Black Reel Award Best Supporting Actress Nominated


  1. Bernstein, Abbie (30 May 2012). "Gugu Mbatha-Raw On "Touch" Interview – EXCLUSIVE". buzzymag. Retrieved 12 January 2015.
  2. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw Attempts to Put Together Mr. Potato Head". Vanity Fair. 3 February 2016. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  3. Williams, Holly. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw on swapping Hollywood for Shakespeare's Globe to play Nell Gwynn". Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  4. "Evening Standard Theatre Awards: Full list of nominees". Retrieved 3 November 2015.
  5. "Speed Date: Belle Breakout Gugu Mbatha-Raw Fancies Nina Simone and The Neverending Story". Yahoo!. 15 May 2014. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  6. Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1916–2005; at
  7. Elber, Lynn (22 September 2010). "Undercovers colorful mission: bring change to TV". The Gainesville Sun. Retrieved 22 August 2017.
  8. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw: Big Questions". BAFTA Guru. Retrieved 17 August 2015.
  9. Gardner, Lyn (15 September 2005). "Romeo and Juliet – Royal Exchange, Manchester". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  10. Dehn, Georgia (28 May 2009). "Hamlet with Jude Law at Wyndham's Theatre: Gugu Mbatha-Raw is mad for it". The Telegraph. Retrieved 7 April 2012.
  11. John, Emma (31 May 2009). "Jude, don't make her mad". Retrieved 27 November 2014.
  12. Oldenburg, Ann (4 November 2010). "NBC cancels 'Undercovers' after 13 episodes". USA Today. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  13. Carter, Bill (4 November 2010). "NBC Cancels 'Undercovers'". New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2010.
  14. Andreeva, Nellie (10 June 2011). "'Undercovers' Star Gugu Mbatha-Raw Set As Female Lead In Fox's Pilot 'Touch'". Retrieved 10 June 2011.
  15. Profile,; accessed 1 March 2015.
  16. "42 Brits to Watch announced" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 9 July 2011.
  17. califor123 (13 June 2014). "Belle (2013)". IMDb. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
  18. Obenson, Tambay A. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw Will Be "Belle" In Slavery Pic Based On Mixed-Race Woman Raised In Aristocratic Family". Shadow and Act. Indiewire. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
  19. "2014 Gotham Award Nominations Revealed". The Hollywood Reporter. 23 October 2014. Retrieved 28 October 2014.
  20. "Meet Elle's 2014 Women in Hollywood". 15 October 2014.
  21. Zuckerman, Esther. "Shailene Woodley, Miles Teller among BAFTA Rising Star nominees". Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  22. Rooney, David. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Return to London Stage". Retrieved 3 July 2015.
  23. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars in Beyond the Light, premiering at TIFF".
  24. Sneider, Jeff. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Star Opposite Matthew McConaughey in Gary Ross' 'Free State of Jones' (Exclusive)". Retrieved 7 January 2015.
  25. "'Black Mirror' Season 3 Trailer: "No One Is This Happy'". Deadline. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016.
  26. Monji, Jana (12 November 2016). "AFI FEST 2016: "MISS SLOANE"". Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  27. Kroll, Justin. "'Beyond the Lights' Star Gugu Mbatha-Raw Joins 'Beauty and the Beast' (EXCLUSIVE)". Retrieved 14 April 2015.
  28. Super Bowl: Trailers dominate; Netflix disrupts the game, Film Daily, February 5, 2018
  29. "SXSW 2018: The hottest indie flicks of the festival - Film Daily". 9 March 2018.
  30. Fleming Jr, Mike. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw To Star, Gina Prince-Bythewood To Helm 'An Untamed State'". Retrieved 22 March 2016.
  31. Conner, Megan (18 March 2018). "Gugu Mbatha-Raw: on Oprah, race and Hollywood". the Guardian.
  32. "No. 61962". The London Gazette (Supplement). 17 June 2017. p. B21.
  33. "Gugu Mbatha-Raw joins Kiefer Sutherland in FOXs Touch". HitFix. Retrieved 13 September 2015.
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