Ruth Negga was born in 1982 (her exact birth date is unknown) in Ethiopia. She grew up in Ireland and moved to London in 2006. Her breakout role was in the film Breakfast on Pluto (2005) and has since built a successful career in both television and film. She is known for her small-screen work on BBC's Criminal Justice, Misfits, as well as ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and AMC's Preacher. She's also taken notable film roles, most recently in Warcraft (2016) and Jeff Nichols' Loving (2016). Negga received Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for her portrayal of Mildred Loving in the 2016 biopic.
Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in 1982 to an Ethiopian father and an Irish mother, Ruth Negga was an only child. Her father died in a car accident when she was seven. Negga was raised in Limerick, Ireland and went on to Trinity College in Dublin, graduating with a degree in acting. She later moved to London in her 20s and honed her acting skills in theater, playing Ophelia at the National Theatre.
Despite growing up in a normal environment, Negga knew from an early age that she was different. “Partly my feelings of difference were down to having parents of different races," she told The Guardian in an interview. "I had quite a scattered childhood. I was Irish in London, because I had my secondary school education there. I never really fitted anywhere. I didn’t feel it was a negative thing and I was never made to feel different – I just knew I was.”
That sense of separation has been the impetus for many of the marginalized characters she's chosen to play in her career. Her breakout role was co-starring opposite Cillian Murphy in Breakfast on Pluto (2005), in which she played a pregnant girlfriend to an IRA terrorist. From there she starred in Colour Me Kubrick (2005), opposite John Malkovich.
In the realm of television, Negga gained recognition for her work in Doctors, Criminal Justice and in BBC2's biopic of Shirley Bassey, from which she won an IFTA Award for Best Actress. She appeared as Raina in ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and currently plays the ruthless Tulip O'Hare on AMC's Preacher.
Other notable projects she's appeared in is Twelve Years a Slave (2013), World War Z (2013), and Warcraft (2016). However, her most promising role to date is the one in which she plays Mildred Loving in Jeff Nichols' Loving (2016), a film based on the true story of a Virginia couple who gets arrested in 1958 for having an interracial marriage. Their controversial arrest eventually led to the historic 1967 anti-discrimination ruling by the Supreme Court.
Asked about her Oscar buzzworthy role in relation to the Academy's recent diversity issues, Negga says: “Diversity needs to operate on every level. It’s great that the Oscars have highlighted it, but black actors getting nominated shouldn’t be the only result. There’s so much more that needs to be done.”
Negga received Golden Globe and Oscar nominations for her performance in Loving.
Negga has been dating Preacher co-star Dominic Cooper since 2010. The couple lives in London.
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