Thursday 17 January 2019

Actors of colour to break Irish stereotypes - Ruth Negga

Status: Ruth Negga with her cultural ambassador award at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Status: Ruth Negga with her cultural ambassador award at Government Buildings, Dublin. Photo: Gareth Chaney/Collins
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

Actor Ruth Negga expects more "people of colour" with Irish accents to break through in the film industry as the country continues to become more ethnically diverse.

The Oscar-nominated star says some might be surprised to see it due to the stereotype of the "Irish cáilín" in movies.

Negga (37), who starred in the movie 'Loving' about an interracial couple who took on the US state of Virginia over laws prohibiting interracial marriage, said the movie industry is moving towards a more diverse culture.

The former 'Love/Hate' actor was raised in Limerick, but was born in Ethiopia to an Irish mother and Ethiopian father, and has just taken on the roll of cultural ambassador for Ireland.

Multicultural

"That's one of the reasons that I was happy to do this. I'm a quite shy person really," Negga said.

"Ireland is a multicultural place now and I think it's important to remind the world or even let them know there's going to be a lot of fantastic, young Irish actors of colour that will have Irish accents and I think that might come as a surprise to some people, but it's how we're evolving.

"I hope I can also encourage young Irish artists of colour that they are Irish and necessary and part of the fabric of the culture of Ireland now."

Asked whether there was a generic idea abroad of an Irish actor, she said: "In some places people do have a stereotype of the Irish cáilín and looking a certain way and I think in order to be diverse and be a cohesive society and make everyone feel welcome is to show the world that you can be an Irish person of colour.

"I do think there are some parts of the world that it might come as a bit of a shock to."

Negga also said she sees an improvement in the role of women in big movies.

"I see a shift in women being in lead roles. I think there's a lot of scripts now with women in lead roles," she added.

Ambassadorial roles were also given to leading architects Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell and musician Martin Hayes.

Irish Independent

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