Wednesday 20 September 2017

Humbled by the Oscar nod

Actress Ruth Negga (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)
Actress Ruth Negga (Photo by Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

Hilary A White

"It is a very odd existence," Ruth Negga said of acting, "something that even people who are close and dear to you may struggle to fully understand. My paranoia leads me to believe that people must think: 'What does she do all day?'"

Following the live-streamed announcement on Oscars.org last Monday, the possibility of anyone thinking this has been banished for good. Negga has now joined screen acting's highest realm with an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress.

I interviewed her in Dublin in mid-December, just before her Golden Globe nomination.

While her seismic turn in Jeff Nichols's historical drama Loving - a biopic of a paradigm-changing mixed-race couple in 1960s Virginia - had many whispering the 'O' word, it was feared right until the last moment that the Ethiopian-born, Limerick-raised star would be kept out of the running by Amy Adams (Arrival) or Annette Bening (20th Century Women).

Before then, there's the Baftas where she is up for a Rising Star award on February 12, but all eyes are now on February 26 and the prospect of the 35-year-old ascending the podium in Hollywood's Dolby Theatre.

She faces stern competition, particularly from Natalie Portman and Emma Stone. The former is imperious as a grieving Jackie Kennedy in Pablo Larrain's Jackie. The latter, meanwhile, is deft and charming in La La Land, the star-lit musical that recently plundered the Golden Globes with a record haul of seven gongs.

Also in contention are Isabelle Huppert for Elle and Meryl Streep for Florence Foster Jenkins.

Paddy Power has Negga fourth in the race behind Stone, Portman and Huppert, at 25/1. The last person of colour to win the Best Actress award was Halle Berry in 2001 for Monster's Ball.

Negga spoke on Wednesday of being "humbled" by the nomination.

"It has been such an honour to have been given the opportunity to tell the incredible story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who serve as an inspiration that ordinary people can do extraordinary things," she said in a statement.

"The Lovings fought quietly yet tirelessly, and changed the course of American legal history. Today, to be among such extraordinary women - my fellow nominees, my peers with films this year, and the legendary performers whose work of years past has long inspired me… this means a great deal to me."

The 89th Academy Awards also yielded nods for Dublin costume designer Consolata Boyle and a Best Original Screenplay nomination for homemade comedy-drama, The Lobster.

Sunday Independent

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