“I become very territorial about my identity because it’s been hijacked by so many people, with their own projections.”

Ruth Negga, a first time Oscar nominee for Leading Actress–and the only nonwhite actress in the category this year–earned her nomination for period drama Loving (2016), though she lost to Emma Stone for her role in La La Land.

In Loving, Ruth stars as a Black wife in the portrayal of a real life interracial couple whose fight to get married in 1950s Virginia went to the Supreme Court. For the Irish-Ethiopian actress born in Ethiopia and raised in Ireland, the subjects of race and identity are ones she has grappled with much of her life. “I’m always very careful to say I’m Irish-Ethiopian because I feel Ethiopian and I look Ethiopian and I am Ethiopian. But there are 81 languages in Ethiopia, and I don’t know any of them,” she told @voguemagazine, adding: “I become very territorial about my identity because it’s been hijacked by so many people, with their own projections.”

Aside from Loving, Ruth has also appeared in Twelve Years a Slave, Warcraft: The Beginning (2016), indie drama Iona (2015), and the AMC hit show Preacher. Ruth’s performance in Loving also garnered a Golden Globes nomination.

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