Ruth Negga just nabbed her first Oscar nomination for her role in Loving, the powerful true story of the romance that eventually led to the dissolution of interracial marriage prohibition. It’s a well-deserved acknowledgment and we hope she wins. But why has it taken the establishment this long to realize the awesomeness that is Ruth Negga? Fans have been singing her praises for a while now and it’s time to do that in an official capacity.
You Can’t Find a Stronger Female Character Actor
The necessary discussion of female characters and their role in our pop culture landscape needs to take into account how stellar Negga has been doing in this field. She’s been delivering solid performances in roles that aren’t usually meant to steal the spotlight. Character actors — performers who are known for playing parts that are more flamboyant or intense — are often dominated by male figures. Negga brings a charm and relatability to female roles that would normally lean toward over-the-top tendencies.
For example, her role as Raina in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. could easily have been something that devolved into utter silliness. Negga was able to tap into what makes the character relatable and even believable. If another actress had been given the opportunity, Raina might have been too cartoonish. Instead, she’s one of the more memorable characters from the show. That’s all Negga’s doing.
Her Range is Limitless
A lot of actors become typecast. You see Ryan Gosling as boyish, Zooey Deschanel as impish, and Harrison Ford as gruffly lovable. That certainly has its advantages, but it doesn’t lead to an incredibly varied career. Negga doesn’t have that problem. She slips into a variety of roles and lets the part take her where she needs to go. That’s why it’s so easy to buy her as both a Virginian wife in Loving and Queen Taria, ruler of Stormwind in Warcraft. She’s able to meet the role on its own terms and bring something special to it. That’s not a talent that all actors have. Some need to find roles that suit them. Negga makes a role exactly what it needs to be.
She is Challenging the Status Quo
Fans probably began to take heavy notice of Negga when she was cast as Tulip O’Hare in AMC’s adaptation of Preacher. She became the target of a ridiculous controversy because the character in the comic was white. It was reminiscent of the inane protests over Michael B. Jordan being cast as the Human Torch in Fantastic Four. Negga’s willingness to take the role and make it her own is the kind of statement more properties need to make. It’s not just prestige stories like Loving that need to remind us of the important issues facing our world. Genre projects need to step up to the plate as well. Negga knows that and embraces it.
And what makes it even better is how perfect Negga is as Tulip. As someone who counts the Preacher comics among his favorite graphic novel work, I can’t imagine anyone else in that role. Negga made Tulip one of the best female characters — hell, one of the best characters period — to hit the TV screen last year. She’s proven that color and background aren’t limitations. When Negga, an Irish-Ethiopian, can bring a Texan character like Tulip to vivid life, you know she’s kicking ass.
Ruth Negga is One of Us
I had the opportunity to talk to Negga for a Preacher event at Comic-Con and she made it very clear that she’s not just taking any role that comes her way. She’s a fan of genre properties and has attached herself to such projects as Dark Souls II and Warcraft because she believes in the power these kinds of stories hold. Being a fan isn’t just about collecting the most memorabilia or being able to quote Monty Python and the Holy Grail from start to finish. Being a fan is also about understanding the importance these kinds of tales and characters carry. Negga wants her sphere of potential to be all-encompassing and that means giving something like Preacher as much weight as a project like Loving. It’s that dedication and genuine love for the material that makes her a true fan.
Ruth Negga is simply the best. She’s an actress we can never get enough of and we’re proud to call her the Queen of Fandom. Here’s hoping we get to hear her acceptance speech at the Oscars on Feb. 26.