Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Belle

Gugu Mbatha-Raw in Belle

*British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, best known in the States for  starring  opposite Boris Kodjoe in NBC’s short-lived “Undercovers,” takes on her first lead movie role in the period drama “Belle,” about the illegitimate mixed-race daughter of a Royal Navy officer in the 1700s.

Dido Elizabeth Belle (Mbatha-Raw) is brought to England by her father and left in the care of his uncle, Lord Mansfield. Though her skin color makes her an outsider, she is raised by Mansfield as an aristocrat alongside her cousin Lady Elizabeth Murray.

The film is inspired by the 1779 painting of Dido and Elizabeth.

Dido and Elizabeth: 1779 painting (top), film (below)

Dido and Elizabeth: 1779 painting (top), Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Sarah Gadon in “Belle” (below)

Below, Mbatha-Raw says as daunting as it was to take on her first film lead, she couldn’t wait to jump into this real-life character and tell her story.

“Belle,” in theaters Friday (May 2),  is directed by Amma Asante, written by Misan Sagay and produced by Damian Jones. It co-stars Tom Wilkinson, Miranda Richardson, Penelope Wilton, Matthew Goode, Emily Watson, Sam Reid, Sarah Gadon, Tom Felton, and James Norton.

Watch the trailer below.