Representation of the diversity of blackness matters and Gugu Mbatha-Raw is making sure she does her part whenever she has the opportunity on screen. The actress recently talked to InStyle magazine about wearing her hair natural in films because, as a biracial woman, she wants to make sure mixed girls see themselves and feel included.
When it comes to her latest film, The Cloverfield Paradox, the 35-year-old said:
“I was quite adamant about showing my natural hair onscreen, because I had never really seen anyone with hair like mine in a sci-fi movie. Images are so important, and I thought it was an opportunity for little girls growing up mixed to feel included and see that they can be an astronaut too.”
Even the use of natural-textured extensions was difficult for Gugu to deal with for the role in the Netflix flick. “I could never shed the character because I was literally carrying her on my scalp. That was hard, because at the end of the day, you really want to strip it all back and just be you.”
That was a transformation we saw the British star’s character Noni in Beyond the Lights undergo. “My character ultimately took out her purple weave and wore her hair natural, which was essential in the evolution of her authenticity,” Gugu said explaining that if a project she’s working on calls for a straight hairstyle, “it really has to support the story.”
Gugu’s on-screen demands also seem to be reflective of her personal philosophy about beauty. The daughter of an English mom and South African dad said, “I feel most beautiful when I’m not being perceived as beautiful. If I’m not thinking about what I look like, then I’m just happy and free to be myself. I’ve had to come to terms with the concept of beauty without judging it as a vacuous thing. My image is part of my job, but I’m getting more comfortable with knowing that it doesn’t define who I am or mean that I’m a superficial person. It’s about expressing yourself.”