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Gugu Mbatha-Raw Talks ‘Misbehaviour’

“Misbehaviour,” the new film starring Keira Knightly and Gugu Mbatha-Raw was released in the U.K. in early March, just a few days before the UK went into lockdown mode due to the coronavirus pandemic. But Mbatha-Raw says the delay may have allowed the film to become even more timely.

“I feel like almost more than ever, the film has become more necessary. You know, as a celebration of women’s empowerment. And, you know, especially in light of, you know, the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg last week. You know, I think that we’re certainly looking for positive and uplifting things to watch at the moment. And, you know, as I say, celebrating the legacy of feminism, as this film does.”

The film tells the story of the 1970 Miss World final which proved to be a defining moment for female empowerment. At the time, the world-famous beauty pageant was the most-watched show in the U.K., with viewing figures eclipsing even the moon landing.

But the competition also attracted the attention of the Women’s Liberation Movement who – during the show’s live broadcast from London – invaded the stage and disrupted transmission.

When the show resumed, it had another shock in store: the winner was revealed as Jennifer Hosten – Miss Grenada – the first Black woman in the history of the competition to be crowned Miss World. The film stars Mbatha-Raw of “The Morning Show” and “Motherless Brooklyn” as Hosten, with Knightley as Sally Alexander – currently Professor Emerita of Modern History at Goldsmiths, University of London and one of the protestors who stormed the stage.

Director Philippa Lowthorpe’s new movie “Misbehaviour” dramatizes the events of the final, taking a look at both sides of the story – from the perspective of the feminist activists and the competition winner. Mbatha-Raw says her feelings about pageants have changed since doing this film.

“I have mixed feelings, to be honest with you. I think initially I was relatively judgmental, you know, about people that got involved in beauty pageants just because I wasn’t aware of them. And I was kind of ignorant about the motivations that people might have. I think I just assumed it was kind of vacuous and superficial,” said Mbatha-Raw.” You know, I think I’ve opened my mind a little bit since talking to Jennifer (Hosten) and other people that have been involved. And I think, you know, certainly for Jennifer at that time, it was really considered an opportunity, you know, to_and a stepping-stone. And I think many women view these pageants as a sort of a platform to go on and do other things and to feel seen and to get confidence and to travel. And so…I try to reserve judgment because I think everybody is coming from a different place.”

Mbatha-Raw is currently back in Atlanta resuming production on Disney’s anticipated “Loki” project, although she wouldn’t say much.

“I’m sworn to secrecy on any details,” she smiled.

However, she did say she was comfortable going back to work and filming despite the ongoing coronavirus battle.

“Many, many people, including all of our unions, have been working very, very hard for months to make sure that there are these protocols that everybody has to adhere to,” she said. “And there’s many, many more rules that we now have to adhere to, to keep it a safe working environment. So, you know, obviously it’s one day at a time. But I feel very grateful that, you know, everybody’s working really hard to keep it as safe as possible so that we can continue working.”

“Misbehaviour” is now available in select theaters and on various VOD platforms.

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