Ruth Negga: “People are much more aware of the fact that they can speak up now”

The Oscar-nominated star of Loving on the importance of sticking to her own path

Interview by MARTHA HAYES
Photography by KURT ISWARIENKO
Fashion Direction by MARYAM MALAKPOUR


I’ve wanted an Oscar since I was 7. My cousin David (who also trained as an actor) and I were joined at the hip as kids and made a pact that if one of us got to the Oscars, we would take the other one. I still can’t believe I got an Oscar nomination for Loving (2016). As a Black woman, that is very special to me. You just hope you’re not some sort of anachronism. These are the right grooves we need to go in, and we need to keep on that trajectory.

I have the best memories of Loving: filming it, talking about it, working with [director] Jeff Nichols and [co-star] Joel Edgerton. It was a world all of our own that we created. I remember saying to Joel halfway through, “I’m really worried about this being over because I love our little bubble.” That’s the best feeling in any job.


DIOR dress, price upon request. VAN CLEEF & ARPELS Bouton d’Or necklace, $106,000, and Perlée Couleurs ring, $7,600. JIMMY CHOO pumps, $1,125.


I could be very easily disheartened and think, “Nothing will be like that again,” and nothing will, but it will be different in its own way. Rebecca Hall’s Passing that I’m in this year has all the markings of a classic, and not just because it’s period and shot in black and white; it’s just beautifully done. Rebecca is an extraordinary filmmaker. She’s extremely wise and intelligent, and when she directs you, you feel she’s completely on your side.

[My motto is:] “Stick to what you want to do and not what you think you should do.” I don’t feel like I’m a go-getter. I wish I was, but I wouldn’t know where to start. I feel I’m ambitious because I want to work — and do really good work. This industry is all about having access to good material and people to take a chance on you, and I’ve really relied on that kind of luck my whole life.


“This industry is all about having access to good material and people to take a chance on you”



A lot of women’s experiences [in the Me Too movement] have showed the complacency that we’ve all been complicit in, of going, “Oh no, it’s fine, it’s just this industry.” Actually, no, we need to have regulation and we need recourse. People are much more aware of the fact that they can speak up now. We’ve got to keep the pressure on, because lives are involved here. And hopefully casual racism or sexism on set is less likely to occur.

I look back at my first film, Breakfast on Pluto (2005) — which starred Irish greats Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson — in a halcyon haze. I played an artist, and [writer and director] Neil Jordan let me do my own art, which I’m not sure was a good or bad thing. I don’t even know if my acting was any good because I wasn’t bothered — I was just so happy and having a good time. It was the height of summer down in Kilkenny in Ireland, and it was in the days when on-set catering was extraordinary. There were all kinds of different fish on the barbecue and you’re like, “I can’t wait to begin my movie career, this is amazing!”


Julianne Moore wears LOEWE coat and BULGARI and CARTIER jewelry.


Stylist assistants SARAH NEARIS and ELLIOT SORIANO.
Hair for Andie MacDowell by JOHN D at FORWARD ARTISTS using ORIBE.
Makeup for MacDowell by PATI DUBROFF at FORWARD ARTISTS.
Nails for Negga and MacDowell by MARLA BOLDEN at OPUS BEAUTY using CHANEL Le VERNIS.
Hair for Édgar Ramírez by SASCHA BREUER at THE WALL GROUP using WELLA.


Feature image: CHANEL jacket, price upon request, top, $3,900, and skirt, $6,650.


This story originally appeared in the Fall 2021 issue of C Magazine.

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