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'Part of the country's fabric' - Actress Ruth Negga said she wants to encourage Irish artists of colour

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Ruth Negga accepted the role of Cultural Ambassador for a period of three years

Ruth Negga accepted the role of Cultural Ambassador for a period of three years

Ruth Negga accepted the role of Cultural Ambassador for a period of three years

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 diverse.

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

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

The former Love Hate star 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.

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

“I think the thing is that 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 and I hope that 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.”

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Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D., with from left leading architect of Grafton Architects Shelly McNamara, award winning actress Ruth Negga, and from right Master musician and founding member of The Gloaming, Martin Hayes and leading architect of Grafton Architects, Yvonne Farrell.
Photo: Maxwells

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Josepha Madigan T.D., with from left leading architect of Grafton Architects Shelly McNamara, award winning actress Ruth Negga, and from right Master musician and founding member of The Gloaming, Martin Hayes and leading architect of Grafton Architects, Yvonne Farrell. Photo: Maxwells

Asked whether there was a generic idea abroad of an Irish actor, she said:

“I think that 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,” she added.

Negga also said she sees an improvement in the role of women in big movies with more being given lead roles than ever before.

“I see a shift in women being in lead roles. I think there’s a lot of scripts now with women in lead roles and I’ve notices such a difference from when I started out.

“It’s taking a long time and a huge amount of pressure and a lot of people to go out on a limb for it to happen and I’m very grateful for it.”

She was joined by master musician Martin Hayes and leading architects Shelley McNamara and Yvonne Farrell of Grafton Architects.

They and Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon were all named as new cultural ambassadors for three years.

They will promote Ireland globally and provide advice and input on strategic cultural initiatives and take part in key events and projects.

The Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan presented the four ambassadors with a silver emblem by silversmith Seamus Gill to mark their appointment.

The fifth ambassador, poet Paul Muldoon, who is the US, will be presented with his award later this week.

Ms Madigan said: "Ireland is known around the world for its cultural and creativity and we recognise and celebrate this.

"Ireland has an important role to play internationally, this is our time.

"Winning our independence was not the end, it was the beginning and today we can be a voice for peace, multi-nationalism, security, free trade, sustainability and social justice in the world."

She said the roles were voluntary but added that Culture Ireland would fund their travel expenses.

Online Editors