Young British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw has already been identified as a star in the making, due in part to her dazzling performance as the lead in new big-screen period drama Belle, which is released on Friday.
And the 30-year-old, who plays mixed-race orphan Dido Belle, has a formidable new advocate: US chat show queen Oprah Winfrey.
As Mbatha-Raw tells RadioTimes.com in the video interview below, Winfrey was so impressed with the film that she invited the actress to lunch at her Californian home.
Mbatha-Raw said that director Amma Assante and actor Sam Reid – who plays Belle’s love interest John Davinier – were invited to Winfrey’s home at her 42-acre estate to discuss the project.
“That was a wonderful and surreal endorsement to have from Oprah,” said Mbatha-Raw. “She’s very passionate about the film and she’s been very very effusive about spreading the word and tweeting about it and she invited us over for lunch at her house.
“She was very inspired to see a very uplifting female-centric story, a female writer, a female director, a mixed-race woman in the lead. I think she loved the idea of celebrating the stories that uplift people and also celebrate what brings us together rather than what divides us.”
As for the food, Mbatha-Raw says that it was cooked not by Oprah herself but the presenter, philanthropist and businesswoman’s chef and was “very delicious”.
Belle is based on real events and sees Mbatha-Raw’s character adopted by her powerful uncle the Lord Chief Justice Lord Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson) in 18th-century Britain. It is released in cinemas on Friday.
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