Gugu Mbatha-Raw felt more comfortable in her corsets for the colonial drama Belle than with the artificial nails she put on to play a pop star in writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights. ”I broke so many nails—they were always lying all over the place,” she recalls, laughing. But starring as Noni—a songstress torn between her calculating momager (Minnie Driver) and her attraction to a sweet security guard (Nate Parker)—required more than multiple trips to the manicurist. The British actress spent hours in the recording studio (”I sing on every track,” she says), learned numerous dance routines, and even took notes backstage at the 2012 Grammy Awards.
Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Beyond the Lights (Suzanne Tenner)
Posted January 17 2015 — 5:04 PM EST
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