“We’re All in This Together”: Ruth Negga Speaks Frankly About Race, Mildred and Richard Loving, and Never Becoming Complacent

We already know Ruth Negga is an incredible actress who stands up for women, thrills with her fashion sense again and again, and we can add excellent interviewee to the innumerable things she does superbly. With Loving out in wide release worldwide, and about to film Preacher, Season 2, the actress has recently spoken quite frankly with several publications . To kick off Black History Month, I’d much rather focus on a smart woman’s words than a certain buffoon’s mishandled mess, so here are a few thought provoking quotes from Ms. Negga’s current round of press. If you weren’t already in love with her, let today be the day.

On being among this year’s record number of black actors nominated for Oscars:

Sometimes it gets a bit tedious being asked about these things, because I can’t be a spokesperson for an entire group of people. It’s just like when people call films ‘black films’ and you’re thinking, ‘Why?’ They are not just for black people, you know. Our film is not about black America, it’s about America. White and black America. You know, we’re all in this together.”

About Mildred and Richard Loving, and our “collective shame” in not knowing more about the couple:

For some reason their story has been neglected by history and I think a lot of that has to do with the fact that they were quite quiet activists. I don’t think they set out to be activists, I think they set out to right a wrong – they had been wronged. I don’t think they were political activists, they were human activists. What they were really doing were lobbying for the right to go home, it’s extraordinary when you think about that.”

On poor assumptions based on heritage (Negga was born in Ethiopia, her late father was Ethiopian and her mother is Irish; Ruth was raised in Ireland from age 4):

People have very unique lives. I just didn’t feel my biracial heritage was a problem growing up Limerick. People assume certain things about what ought to have happened in your life … It’s fascinating. People can’t cope with particulars, things that don’t fit into their experience.”

Reflecting on playing Mildred while thinking about racial issues today, and the impact of laws:

A lot of people say it’s interesting that it was only 50 years ago and I think, well, have a think about it: how far have we come – race is still a question, I mean now at least it’s being talked about but for so long everyone didn’t … Thinking about talking about who has the right to legislation, who you want spend… marry, you know, and love. I think those are incredible things that we think that we’ve achieved. I don’t know if anything gets ‘achieved’ does it, it has to be – we’re a work in progress, so are the things we do, all our actions are too, and so I think once we talk about achievement, a sense of complacency creeps in and for me that’s always dangerous because that assumes, I feel, [that we are] very self-satisfied and we shouldn’t, because we have to be vigilant to hate and unacceptance of one another.”

Breaking stereotypes:

Actors of color should have no limitations on screen … What’s so offensive for people of colour is that others assume we don’t run the whole gamut of human experience. That a black person couldn’t be a nerd, that kind of idea. This idea that you are not allowed to own your own humanity fully. I just find it so bizarre that you are given limited colours to work with. It’s something we have to keep addressing and never get complacent about.”

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis has been writing about the entertainment industry for ​over seven years, and is the ​Editor-in-Chief at Oohlo, where she muses over television, movies, and pop culture. Previous Senior News Editor at Pajiba, and published at BUST.

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  • emmalita

    I’m all in favor of paying attention to anyone but Orange Babyhands.

  • dear ruth i love you k thx bye