Gugu Mbatha-Raw met with the Miss World winner she portrays in Misbehaviour to prepare for the role.
In the comedy-drama, the Belle actress plays Miss Grenada, Jennifer Hosten, who became the first black woman to win the Miss World crown in 1970, when the competition was disrupted by Women’s Liberation protestors at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
To prepare for the role, Mbatha-Raw flew to Grenada to talk to Hosten and get her perspective on the real-life incident.
“She’s in her seventies now, and she’s got such a regal presence, such posture, these bright, bright eyes – she’s very demure, quite proper but very centred,” she told Harper’s Bazaar U.K. “It was amazing to meet her and find out about a moment in her life all that time ago that really informed all her opportunities and choices. She felt like she was an ambassador for her country, and she was breaking boundaries in her own way.”
Thanks to working on the movie, The Morning Show star has become less judgmental about women who enter beauty pageants.
“I came to (the part) with an air of judgment, of, oh, you know, beauty queens,” she admitted. “But I’ve become more open-minded as to what that represents. I think it’s very easy now to look back and say, ‘Why would you do that? It’s so superficial.’ What’s interesting is that rebellion can often be a luxury.”
The 36-year-old also watched footage of the 1970 ceremony, in which the activists threw flour and stink bombs, and she was shocked to see a moment in which the candidates had to turn around and show their bottoms, with her adding, “It definitely makes you realise quite how far we’ve come.”
Misbehaviour, which also stars Keira Knightley and Jessie Buckley, is in U.K. cinemas now.
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