Woman to Watch: Gugu Mbatha-Raw


Birthplace: Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, UK

Occupation: Actress

Education: Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts in London

Family Affair: Her father, Patrick, is a South African doctor and her mother, Anne, is a English nurse. Her parents separated when she was a year old. She remains close to her father, and she was raised by her mother in the town of Witney, Oxfordshire.

Paying Her Dues: Gugu’s mastery of Shakespeare led to her first professional role in an Open Air production of “As you Like It,” playing the role of Celia. Soon after she landed roles at Manchester’s Royal Exchange Theatre in “Antony and Cleopatra,” and the title role of Juliet in “Romeo and Juliet.” It wasn’t long before she caught the attention of the critics and the public eye after her performance as Ophelia opposite Jude Law’s ‘Hamlet’ in the Donmar Warehouse production of ‘Hamlet’ which ran in the West End, followed by a successful run on Broadway. Her British television credits include “M15,” “Dr. Who,” “Marple: Ordeal By Innocence,” “Bonekickers,” and “Fallout.” .

Accolades: In 2005, she won the Manchester Evening News Award for Best Actress and in 2008 she was selected as a Star of Tomorrow by industry magazine Screen International.

Triple Threat: Gugu is not only a talented actress but she is also a singer, dancer and plays the saxophone. She joined the Oxford Youth Music Theatre when she was in her teens.

Big Break: Beginning September 22, 2010, Gugu will star opposite Boris Kodjoe in the new NBC drama “Undercovers”. This will mark Gugu’s first major American television debut.

Fun Fact: Her full name is Gugulethu and it means “our pride” in Zulu.

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