New Film About Biracial Slave Abolitionist Competes With “12 Years a Slave”

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Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays the role of Dido Elizabeth Belle a biraical woman who contributed to the end of slavery in the UK.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw portraying Dido Elizabeth Belle

Reported by Nigel Boys

Based on the true story of a young girl named Dido Elizabeth Belle who was born to an African slave mother and British Royal Navy officer father during the 18th century, a new movie titled “Belle” promises to be the British film equivalent of the 2013 movie, “12 Years a Slave.” The film features rising British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw.

In an interview with The Root, Mbatha-Raw talks about her experience portraying the young black woman, who is thought to have played a big part in the end of slavery in the United Kingdom. According to the 30-year-old actress, she had no problem playing the role of a mixed racial daughter because her father, Patrick Mbatha, is South African and her mother, Anne Raw, is British.

The movie, due to hit the screens this week, shows how Belle struggles to fit in when she is taken by her father to the home of his uncle named Lord Chief Justice Mansfield to be part of the British aristocracy. Although she is accepted by some of the family, her biracial background denies her the full acceptance in society that she would receive if she were born of white parents.

In one touching part of the movie, Mbatha-Raw states that she is too high in society to dine with the servants of the house but too low to dine with the family she is supposed to be a part of.

When asked why she thought the movie was so important for people of all races, Mbatha-Raw answered that she believed that people should know what happened during the enslaving time of Britain’s history because it’s not taught in schools.

Mbatha-Raw went on to tell The Root that “Belle” is different from the movie “12 Years a Slave,” which showed very viοlent images of African slave treatment in the U.S. She said this is because slavery in England was kind of hidden in the past. She adds that although the British aristocracy benefited from having slaves, they did not openly employ them to work the fields as they did in America.

As for her next role, the up and coming actress confided to The Root that she would love to play the role of Cleopatra. She adds that any role where she could portray the struggle of the African people would be most welcome to her because she believes that the world needs to know their history.



  1. Amazing Grace

    May 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    Initially thought she was Ms . Washington, but this film should be quite interesting because last year’s, 12 Years a Slave captivating Ms.Nyungo gave a riveting performance of actual occurrences of slavery in the USA, now this film will give the actual occurrence in the UK. I have been looking forward to this motion picture for over six months.

  2. Regina

    May 14, 2014 at 12:53 am

    Looking forward to it.

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