Gugu Mbatha-Raw Elle Women in Hollywood 2014 Cover

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Talks ‘Beyond the Lights’ in ELLE’s “Women in Hollywood” Issue

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Covers ELLE's Women in Hollywood 2014

Gugu Mbatha-Raw Covers ELLE’s Women in Hollywood 2014

Belle and Beyond the Lights star Gugu Mbatha-Raw is featured in Elle’s 2014 “Women in Hollywood” issue alongside Zoe Saldana, Tina Fey, Elizabeth Banks, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Jessica Lange, and Brie Larson.

For her Paola Kudacki-lensed shoot, Gugu is styled in a simple white Calvin Klein t-shirt and boxers combo and a Chopard necklaces.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw for Elle "Women in Hollywood" 2014 photographed by Paola Kudacki

Gugu Mbatha-Raw for Elle “Women in Hollywood” 2014 photographed by Paola Kudacki

Inside, she speaks on what attracted her to the role opposite Nate Parker (The Great Debaters) in Beyond the Lights.

Written and directed by Love And Basketball‘s Gina Prince-Bythewood, the feature tells the story of Noni (Gugu), a musical superstar crumbling under the pressures of fame until she meets Kaz Nicol (Nate), a young cop and aspiring politician who’s been assigned to her detail.

Noni and Kaz fall fast and hard, despite the protests of those around them who urge them to put their career ambitions ahead of their romance. But it is ultimately Kaz’s love that gives Noni the courage to find her own voice and break free to become the artist she was meant to be.

Also starring Minnie Driver, Danny Glover and rapper Machine Gun Kelly, the film premiered at the Chicago International Film Festival this month and will hit theaters on November 14th.

Check out a couple of snippets from her “Women in Hollywood” interview below, and grab the issue when it hits newsstands on October 21st.

On her role in Beyond the Lights:

“One of the things that drew me to the project was the relationship between mother and daughter— that ‘mom-ager’ dynamic—because I grew up with a single mom, though my dad has definitely been in my life a lot. But my mom couldn’t be more different from Minnie Driver’s character. I was the pushy child, the one who wanted to be doing ballet and jazz and tap and everything.”

On if she’s had a moment where she thought to herself, Wow, I’m going to make it:

“It’s funny—I never feel like, ‘Oh, wow, I’ve made it.’ I’m interested in the journey. I’m interested in the adventure of working with different people, and I guess as soon as you sit on your laurels and can go, ‘Well, aren’t I great?’—that’s just the beginning of the end.”