- 18 Jan 17
Having captivated America with her co-starring role in Loving, Limerick actress Ruth Negga is among the bookies' favourite to win a Best Actress Oscar in February. Stuart Clark charts her dramatic rise.
If anyone had any doubts about Ruth Negga joining the Hollywood A-List, they would’ve been dispelled last month when she appeared alongside fellow Oscar Best Actress contenders Amy Adams, Natalie Portman, Annette Benning and Emma Stone in a glossy L.A. Times photo-shoot.
One gong that the Addis Ababa-born, Limerick-raised 34-year-old already has in the bag is the prestigious Palm Springs International Film Festival Rising Star Award, which will be presented to her in January.
Having gradually built her Stateside profile up with roles in World War Z, 12 Years A Slave, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Preacher, the 34-year-old achieved leading lady status this year in Loving, the true story of an interracial couple whose getting married in 1950s Virginia resulted in them being hauled off to jail.
Hitting Irish screens in early 2017, it’s become all the more relevant in wake of Donald Trump handing the Attorney General role to Jeff Sessions who was once accused of calling a black official in Alabama a “nigger”, and then giving a false explanation to the US Senate when testifying about the allegation.
“A film of utmost sensitivity, but not nearly enough outrage, secure in its position vis-à-vis the bigotry that dominated before America’s Civil Rights revolution,” says Variety while Rolling Stone commends director Jeff Nichols for “giving us a quietly devastating movie that resonates for the here and now and marches to the cadences of history and the heart.”
“I was moved by Mildred and Richard Loving’s story because of my own background as a mixed-race person,” Negga tells the L.A. Times. “I was also drawn to this great love story that has never been told. Mildred was the spine of the couple. She saw what maybe Richard didn’t want to see, that they weren’t going to get out of this by running away or putting their heads in the sand. She was a very astute woman. After those five days in jail, she realised that the fairy tale was over.
“Black women then had a lot of resilience, a lot of tenacity and a lot of fight in them,” she continues. “It’s not the fight of being loud or big, because that kind of fight could get you killed. It’s the innate knowledge that something isn’t right.”
The downside to Negga’s burgeoning superstar status is that her and her actor beau Dominic Cooper – they met in 2009 whilst starring alongside Helen Mirren in the stage adaptation of Phèdre – are now prime paparazzi fodder with multiple lenses zooming recently when they were spotted out and about in London. It all seems very far removed from when Negga played Robert Sheehan’s ex- Rosie in eight episodes of Love/Hate whilst also portraying Ophelia in the National Theatre’s production of Hamlet.
Regardless of whether she leaves Hollywood’s Dolby Theater on February 26 with a gold statuette, the Trinity College Dublin graduate will be giving Saoirse Ronan, Eve Hewson and Caitriona Balfe a serious run for their money next year in the Irish hot property actress stakes. Loving goes on general release in Ireland on February