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Who Is Ruth Negga? 5 Things to Know About the Oscar-Nominated Star of ‘Loving’

She’s a name to know at this year’s Oscars! Ruth Negga is nominated for best actress for her role in Loving. The film, based on the real-life story of Richard and Mildred Loving, follows her character’s fight to legalize interracial marriage in 1950s America — and she totally steals the show.

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The 35-year-old got her first big part when she was cast in 2005’s Breakfast on Pluto. She went on to earn a string of smaller TV and film roles. “I have not been aggressive in my pursuit of being a star. I’ve never had a plan,” she told The Hollywood Reporter last year. But it seems like this is finally her year! Find out five things to know about the potential Oscar winner.

1. She Grew Up All Over the World

The World War Z star was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to an Irish mother and Ethiopian father. The family moved to Limerick, Ireland, when she was 4 and then to London a few years later. She went on to study drama at Trinity College in Dublin. “I’ve gone into auditions and I think they have an assumption about me when they see my photo, and then I open my mouth and they say, ‘Where exactly are you from? And you were born in Ethiopia? But you’re Irish, but you also kind of sound English. That’s really strange,’” she told Indiewire in 2012. “They want to put you in a box in L.A., that’s how they tend to do it here, so if you don’t fit in that box, it makes it more difficult.”

2. She Almost Had a Breakout Role in 12 Years a Slave

The Oscar role that could have been! Negga spent days filming a scene where her character, a runaway slave named Celeste, escapes through a crocodile-filled swamp, but it was later cut from the film. When asked if she was disappointed, she told the Irish Times, “That’s an understatement! I got a call from [director Steve McQueen] and I knew as soon as the phone started ringing, I just knew. He let me down gently.”

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3. She Stars on AMC’s Preacher

Negga plays badass Tulip O’Hare on the comic book–inspired TV drama. “She’s sort of unforgettable. She has no morals. She’s an agitator assassin, a gun for hire, and she’s written the way male characters are usually written,” she told the Guardian last year. And Negga made the character her own. “I’m about to go off and play a character who was originally white and blonde and has really big boobs, and none of those things apply to me,” she said of how Tulip appeared in the original comics.

4. She’s Dating Her Preacher Costar Dominic Cooper

The couple, who have been dating since meeting on the set of 2009’s Phèdre and live together in London’s Primrose Hill, both nabbed roles in the series — but it wasn’t planned. “I had the script first,” she told Vogue. “And he put me on tape for it, reading, and then he was like: ‘Hold on a minute, this is really good.’ I showed him the comic-book cover, and it’s basically his face.”

5. She’s Already a Style Star

She dazzled in a sequin Louis Vuitton gown with a zipper down the middle at the 2017 Golden Globes. Negga was nominated for Best Actress in a Drama Motion Picture, and although the Globe went to Isabelle Huppert for Elle, her style earned rave reviews. Her fashion choices for the Globe afterparties, the Palm Springs Film Festival and the Loving premiere in Paris didn’t disappoint either. 

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