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Exclusive: Why GuGu Mbatha-Raw Is One To Watch

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If you don’t know the name Gugu Mbatha-Raw, you will soon. The 30-year-old British beauty is about to make a  splash with starring roles in the musical drama Blackbird and the 18th century period piece Belle. 

HipHollywood sat down with her during the junket for Belle to talk about her rising star status, but she said she wasn’t feeling any pressure. “It’s inspiring and I’m really really happy promoting a story that I’m passionate about,” said Gugu.

Directed by Amma Asante, Belle follows Gugu as Dido Elizabeth Belle, the mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral on a mission to find her true love and end slavery in England. The film is based on a true story, and Gugu let us in on how she finally landed the role. Check it out.

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EXCLUSIVES

Netflix’s ‘Step Sisters’ Is ‘Bring It On’ … But Way More Woke!

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Netflix is getting ready to “Bring It On” … in more ways than one. The streaming service’s new flick Step Sisters is reminiscent of the 90s dance film, but delves deeper into racial themes like cultural appropriation, tokenization and interracial dating.

In the film Megalyn Echikunwoke (Arrow) plays the president of a black sorority who is tasked with teaching one of the campus’ white sororities how to step for a charity competition. At first glimpse the film seems to be stepping into a can of worms — and had folks on Twitter up in arms, but the creators and cast told HipHollywood it isn’t about cultural appropriation but instead cultural exchange.

“There’s a strong political message, and there’s a lot of racial content,” said Nia Jervier. “But I think that the pill that may be difficult to swallow is dipped in honey, because it’s funny.”

What also helps is that producer/writers like Lena Waithe (Masters of None), Chuck Hayward (Dear White People) and Ben Cory Jones (Underground) are behind the project – so you know it’s woke.

“At the end of the day, Jamila the lead character in our minds she’s reaching over to show them a part of our culture. It doesn’t dilute our culture,” said Jones. ” And I love that we can take stepping and evolve that into issues of race and culture.”

Step Sisters begins streaming on Netflix January 20th.

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