Do Women Have Superpowers? Gugu Mbatha-Raw Says Yes

Posted in Articles, Arts, Interviews, Media Archive, United States on 2019-06-03 19:18Z by Steven

Do Women Have Superpowers? Gugu Mbatha-Raw Says Yes

The New York Times

Kathryn Shattuck

Emily Berl for The New York Times

When Gugu Mbatha-Raw signed up to be a superhero, little did she know she’d be squaring off against Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the rest of the Marvel universe.

But two years later, “Fast Color” has found itself in theaters at the same time as “Avengers: Endgame” — and heralded as the antidote to men destroying the world to save it.

“It’s quite an interesting journey that it’s being compared and contrasted to a huge Marvel juggernaut, which was never our intention,” she said. “But I have to say I’m interested in the conversation. I haven’t always seen myself represented in those kinds of movies, as a lot of people haven’t.”

Mbatha-Raw is herself a fighter: In 2014, she broke through with Amma Asante’sBelle,” about the mixed-race daughter of an 18th-century British naval captain raised among the white aristocracy — a role she pursued for eight years. Months later, she transformed herself into a flailing pop superstar who divines peace through the music of Nina Simone in Gina Prince-Bythewood’sBeyond the Lights.”…

Read the entire interview here.

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19 Black UK Actresses Who Are Killing The Game Across The Pond

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United Kingdom, United States, Women on 2016-11-24 19:36Z by Steven

19 Black UK Actresses Who Are Killing The Game Across The Pond


Sydney Scott

There’s tons of talent coming out of the UK, with many actresses crossing the pond and appearing in some of our favorite television shows and movies. There are too many talented actresses to name, but we had to share some of our favorites with you. From well-known names and recognizable faces to those just bursting onto the scene, here are 19 of our favorite UK actresses…

Read the entire article here.

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Crucifying the White Savior (Film)

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, Mississippi, Slavery, United States on 2016-07-19 19:44Z by Steven

Crucifying the White Savior (Film)

Shadow and Act

Andre Seewood

We no longer have to forgive them, for they know exactly what they are doing.

The new film by Gary Ross, “The Free State of Jones” is uncontestably a White savior film. Laid bare, “The Free State of Jones” is a simplistically constructed tale of a Confederate army deserter who eventually lives in a polygamous relationship with a Black former slave named Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) with whom he has a mixed race child and his White wife and their White child. The film’s story is a heroification of the 1862 true story of Newton Knight a real Confederate deserter from Jones County, Mississippi, who ironically didn’t actually “save” anyone, but instead merely prolonged the inevitable suffering of those Blacks and his mixed race progeny who were trapped within the White supremacist power structure of the United States of America.

The film builds its White savior character not in the broad conflicts between Confederate and Union soldiers, Free Black men and the KKK, but in small scenes of selfless heroism and demonstrative yet intimate “White-man- taking-charge- and-directing- the-actions- of-others” scenes that accumulate over the course of the two-and- a-half- hour film until there is no doubt about who is saving whom in a battle and who desperately needed to be protected from whom in a White supremacist society. Yet “The Free State of Jones” is an oddly racially segregated film that separates its Black token characters from its White fully developed characters, even as they fight (presumably) together to protect their illegal territory. There are certain battle and robbery scenes where no Black token is shown and others where Black tokens fight next to each other but are segregated from their fellow White fighters, revealing that Knight’s Free State was conditional at best. Moreover, the film never manages to convince the skeptical spectator that Knight’s higher ideals of freedom, autonomy, and “Every man is a man” equality were not simply rooted in his adulterous lust for a Black woman’s body.

However, if we take off the metaphorical rose colored glasses that director Gary Ross has placed in front of the camera, it is not too difficult to see that Newton Knight was merely a Confederate deserter who wanted to have his cake and eat it too- a Black mistress and a White wife – and through the benefit of his White privilege, he was allowed to do so with peculiar impunity until the end of his days…

Read the entire article here.

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A Confederate Dissident, in a Film With Footnotes

Posted in Articles, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Mississippi, Slavery, United States on 2016-06-17 19:01Z by Steven

A Confederate Dissident, in a Film With Footnotes

The New York Times

Jennifer Schuessler

The forthcoming Matthew McConaughey drama “Free State of Jones” lays claim to being the first Hollywood film in decades to depict Reconstruction, the still controversial post-Civil War period that attempted to rebuild the South along racially egalitarian lines.

But the movie, written and directed by Gary Ross, might also lay claim to a more unusual title: the first Hollywood drama to come with footnotes.

The film recounts the true story of Newton Knight (Mr. McConaughey), a Confederate deserter who led a ragtag dissident army from the swamps of Jones County, Miss., and continued to fight for the rights of African-Americans after the Civil War ended…

…Where Mr. Ross has invented characters or episodes or made guesses about motivations, he explains why, pointing to justifications in the historical record. For example, the film depicts Knight’s decades-long relationship with Rachel (played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw of “Belle”), a former slave who once belonged to his grandfather and with whom he had several children. The site shows an 1876 document in which Knight (who remained married to his white wife) deeded her 160 acres of land — an indication, Mr. Ross writes, that theirs was “a loving relationship that grew over time,” rather than manifesting a “Thomas Jefferson/Sally Hemings power dynamic.” Knight did not own slaves.

The extent of Knight’s collaborations across the color line has been a point of sometimes hot debate among scholars, including those on Mr. Ross’s team. In 2009, after Mr. Stauffer and Sally Jenkins published “The State of Jones,” a book inspired by Mr. Ross’s screenplay, Ms. Bynum posted a blistering three-part review on her blog, questioning what she called its “highly exaggerated claims” that Knight had fought for racial equality before and after the war…

…It remains to be seen how Mr. Ross’s film will land with audiences. Kellie Carter Jackson, an assistant professor of history at Hunter College and the author of the coming book “Force and Freedom: Black Abolitionists and the Politics of Violence,” said there was a need for a more accurate depiction of Reconstruction, but noted that Hollywood “has a hard time divesting white men from the center of the universe.”…

Read the entire article here.

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Loyal Southerners – a presentation by Marvin T. Jones

Posted in History, Live Events, Media Archive, United States on 2016-05-04 01:42Z by Steven

Loyal Southerners – a presentation by Marvin T. Jones

Rock Creek Nature Center
5200 Glover Road, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20015
Saturday, 2016-05-07, 09:30-11:00 EDT (Local Time)

Marvin T. Jones, Executive Director
Chowan Discovery Group

The story of the most famous of Southern Unionists, Newton Knight (left) will be screened on film. It stars Mathew McConaughey and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Release date is June 24.

Very little has been told and much has been suppressed about Southerners who defended the Union during the Civil War. On June 24, the release of the movie The Free State of Jones brings to the public the best known story of resisters to the Confederacy. In preparation for the movie’s release, Marvin T. Jones of Chowan Discovery will present an overview of loyal southern groups who operated from North Carolina’s Winton Triangle area to Texas including Jones’ Newton Knight and his Knight Company…

For more information, click here.

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First Look at Matthew McConaughey in The Free State of Jones

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, Mississippi, United States on 2015-03-10 01:39Z by Steven

First Look at Matthew McConaughey in The Free State of Jones

Max Evry

Motion picture and television studio STX Entertainment has begun principal photography on the theatrical feature The Free State of Jones in and around New Orleans, Louisiana, it was announced by Adam Fogelson, Chairman of STX Entertainment’s Motion Picture Group.

The epic action-drama is written and directed by four-time Oscar nominee Gary Ross (The Hunger Games, Seabiscuit, Pleasantville), and stars Oscar-winner Matthew McConaughey (Interstellar, Dallas Buyers Club), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights), Keri Russell (Dawn of the Planet of the Apes) and Mahershala Ali (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1, “House of Cards”)…

…Set during the Civil War, The Free State of Jones tells the story of defiant Southern farmer Newt Knight, and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers, and with the assistance of local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy, creating a Free State of Jones.

His marriage to a former slave, Rachel, and his subsequent establishment of a mixed race community was unique in the post-war South. Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, which distinguished him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.

Read the entire article here.

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Star Opposite Matthew McConaughey in Gary Ross’ ‘Free State of Jones’ (Exclusive)

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, United States on 2015-01-07 19:53Z by Steven

Gugu Mbatha-Raw to Star Opposite Matthew McConaughey in Gary Ross’ ‘Free State of Jones’ (Exclusive)

The Wrap: Covering Hollywood

Jeff Sneider, Film Reporter

Scott Stuber and Jon Kilik are producing the Civil War tale for Robert Simonds’ STX Entertainment

Hot off a pair of acclaimed performances in “Beyond the Lights” and “Belle,” Gugu Mbatha-Raw will star opposite Matthew McConaughey in Gary Ross’ Civil War movie “Free State of Jones,” TheWrap has learned.

Robert Simonds’ STX Entertainment is producing the $65 million movie and co-financing with foreign sales company IM Global. STX will handle domestic distribution, while IM Global will handle foreign rights. CAA brokered the domestic deal…

Based on a true story, “Free State of Jones” will star McConaughey as Newton Knight and Mbatha-Raw as Rachel, a slave whose relationship with Knight played a central part in his life and in his armed rebellion against the Confederacy during the Civil War…

Read the entire article here.

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Belle: A Film That Defied Expectations

Posted in Articles, Arts, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-09-01 00:33Z by Steven

Belle: A Film That Defied Expectations

The Root

Julie Walker

The film’s star and director talked to The Root about how an inspirational character helped shaped the movie, which is now out on DVD.

Actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who stars in the movie Belle—now out on DVD—grew up in England watching Jane Austen films but never imagined that she would play the lead in a period drama.

Those films, like the books they were based on, never had black or biracial heroines, but Belle does. The film was inspired by the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the daughter of an enslaved African woman and an officer in the British Royal Navy. Belle was raised a free woman in 17th-century England.

The film opened in May to rave reviews and so far has grossed $10,722,990 (as of Aug. 24, 2014), according to Box Office Mojo. Not bad for a movie that only opened on four screens and had trouble getting made because of the subject matter.

The film’s star and director talked to The Root about how an inspirational character helped shaped the movie, which is now out on DVD.

Mbatha-Raw told The Root in May, before the film’s U.S. release, that she wanted young girls to be able to see themselves in Belle. “This is the first time I have seen a period drama with a biracial woman as the lead and it is told from a female British perspective,” said Mbatha-Raw, who has a white English mother and black South African father. “The film explores issues of identity, race, class and gender, which are very universal themes, but also the film is this sweeping love story. It is such a different perspective, and I think it is important to know as a biracial person myself.”…

…That director is Amma Asante, who is also British. She echoed the same sentiment when The Root spoke with her before the film’s U.S. premiere.

“There was a little girl who looked like me and you, who helped to change the course of our history. That’s a good thing; we can celebrate that,” Asante said.

It was the idea that a black woman would be the focus that drew Asante to the story. “I feel like it is essential to explore these stories because they are part of what makes us who we are today, and we are all responsible to own our history. We need to tell these stories,” said Asante, who signed on to the project in 2009…

Read the entire article here.

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Thanks, Belle, it’s nice to see a face like mine on screen

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, History, Media Archive, United Kingdom on 2014-06-11 20:27Z by Steven

Thanks, Belle, it’s nice to see a face like mine on screen

The Guardian (The Observer)

Ashley Clark

In giving top billing to Gugu Mbatha-Raw, the film Belle makes a real contribution to raising awareness of the mixed-race experience

My heart leaps whenever I see the poster for Amma Asante’s new film, Belle, high up on billboards around town. The poised, sincere face of its lead actress, Gugu Mbatha-Raw (a Brit of black South African and white English extraction), towers above an otherwise white cast including Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, and ex-Harry Potter villain Tom Felton.

Why? As a mixed-race Brit myself – white and black Caribbean, as I’ve been checking in the relevant boxes for some years now – it’s always been significant to me to see someone who looks like they could be a close relative in the foreground rather than the background. The film’s protagonist, Dido Elizabeth Belle, as you might now know, is based on an actual 18th-century mixed-race woman of white British and black African heritage who was raised as an aristocrat…

…The sociologist Emma Dabiri convincingly argues that “black-mixed people can be racialised as black, whereas non-black-mixed people are able to inhabit a more ambiguous exotic space”. This, says Dabiri, puts paid to the myth that all mixed-race groups can be packaged together – as the media often attempt to do – as one separate, monolithic community: a tidy narrative of progress…

Read the entire article here.

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‘Belle’: Romance, Race And Slavery With Jane Austen Style

Posted in Articles, Arts, Audio, History, Interviews, Media Archive, Slavery, United Kingdom on 2014-06-03 22:46Z by Steven

‘Belle’: Romance, Race And Slavery With Jane Austen Style

National Public Radio
Tell Me More

Michel Martin, Host

British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw was brought up on Jane Austen adaptations. “You know, the Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth and Jennifer Ehle was something I watched on a weekly basis with my mum at home in Oxfordshire,” she tells NPR’s Michel Martin.

But as the biracial actress completed her training at Britain’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, she watched her peers win roles in “the Downton Abbeys of this world” and realized those period dramas weren’t calling her. It made Mbatha-Raw ask: “Why can’t I be in something like this?”

Now she is. Mbatha-Raw plays the title character in Belle, a film based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate daughter of a captain in the Royal Navy and an enslaved African woman. When she is a child, Dido’s father entrusts her to his uncle, one of the most powerful men in the country.

“She goes on this massive journey to become a woman who has the courage to stand up for who she is and what she believes in,” Mbatha-Raw says…

Read the entire article here. Listen to the interview here (00:12:53). Read the transcript here. Download the audio here.

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