“Belle,” the untold story of, Dido Elizabeth Belle, the illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral and an enslaved African woman in 18th century England, hits theaters this Friday.
“There aren’t many historical stories about people like me.”
Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as Belle, a black well-versed and outspoken heiress during slavery.
“When people think of ‘dual heritage,'” they think it’s a modern concept, but really it’s not,” explained the mixed-race actress. “So the fact that Belle was a pioneer of her time is amazing to me. Her story needs to be known.”
Raised in an aristocratic British home, “Belle” addresses the complexities of Belle’s lineage and the color of her skin. The NAACP Image Award nominee said young girls will walk away with courage to do what they want in life and to be true to themselves.
“I hope they feel inspired to be comfortable in their own skin,” declared Mbatha-Raw. “To be who they are and not to worry about other people putting labels on them or endowing them with any societal expectations.”
The inspiration for “Belle” was sparked by a portrait that caught the eye of writer, Misan Sagay, (“Their Eyes Were Watching God”).
“The black woman (Dido Elizabeth Belle) in the painting was not identified,” shared Sagay. “So I did some research. As a writer and a black woman I am dedicated to finding these stories of other black women in a time when they had little to no voice.”
BAFTA award winning director Amma Asante (A Way of Life) said Belle has a complex identity.
The family friendly film is a period drama for all genders and nationalities.
Fox Searchlight’s “Belle” will be in theaters May 2nd. To find locations and show times go to http://www.foxsearchlight.com/Belle/