6 FILMS, INCLUDING CONCUSSION (2015).
“Gugu” is short for “Gugulethu,” which is Zulu for “Our Pride,” and if, as some Jungian analysts believe, destiny and identity are kerneled in one’s name, well, here you go—what more proof is needed? Pride defines the aura of her performances, an observant bearing that occupies its own quiet place, even in the frantic thick of a phantasmagoria such as the Wachowskis’ Jupiter Ascending. Born in Oxford, England, a graduate of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, Mbatha-Raw began her climb on popular series such as MI-5 and Doctor Who, achieving first-class status on the movie screen with starring roles in Belle, a drama set in the 18th century about the mixed-race daughter of an admiral in the Royal Navy and her anomalous place in the drawing rooms of the wigged aristocracy, and Beyond the Lights, a pop-music romance about a superstar for whom success is a gilded cage. She also teamed with Will Smith in Concussion, the sports procedural and moral inquiry into the spate of brain injuries in the N.F.L. produced by heavy-impact helmet-to-helmet head butts and the league’s effort to look the other way. There’s no looking the other way when she’s on-screen.