Amma Asante and Gugu Mbatha-Raw Talk ‘Belle’


FanBolt had the opportunity to sit down with the star of Belle, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, as well as the film’s director, Amma Asante, and as much as we enjoyed the film before, chatting with these lovely ladies makes want to run out and grab the DVD (out now!) and relive the story all over again.

In 18th century England, being born to a White aristocrat father and a mother who was a slave would automatically put one in a precarious position in society…not quite a slave, but not quite free. It’s this journey of self-discovery and self-love that we watch Dido Elizabeth Belle take throughout the duration of Belle, as she tries to figure out who she is and where she fits in a society where roles are supposed to be clear cut. The film, aside from being an inspiring historical tale, also tackles issues of race, class and gender that are still relevant today.

When asked about what drew her to the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, Amma answered, “It came to me in the form of a post card print of the painting, the infamous painting. It was everything that the painting said to me, the painting spoke to me. There was Dido, so confident, and placed in a position that, in our history we’ve never really seen a person of color prior to this before, standing there with equal value to her cousin, and I wanted to know who she was, why was she so beautifully dressed, why did she look wealthy, who was the girl standing next to her, but most importantly, who commissioned the painting? Like, who was the person who clearly had enough love and courage to commission the painting? So for me it was all about the history, then it was about going back and doing research and creating my vision for the story I wanted to tell.”

Belle was certainly a woman with many layers to tackle and get through, and speaking on the complexity of the character Gugu said, ” We talked a lot, you know with Amma, about Dido’s kind of journey and really charting her trajectory from a girl to a woman and everything that she goes through in sort of that Jane Austen kind of coming out moment of their lives with her sister-cousin played by Sarah Gadon. For me that was kind of really helpful to be able to work out at what point- because you know we film completely out of context, so you know, you’re sort of going “OK, where are we in the journey? Am I woman yet? Can I stand up for myself yet or am I still accepting of everything that’s on my plate?””

Watch the full interview with Amma and Gugu below to to hear more about Belle, including the process of bringing the girl on the postcard to film, what it was like wearing those beautiful costumes and more!

Belle is available on DVD now, so make sure you pick up a copy and check it out!

Photo Credit: Fox Searchlight Films

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