Preacher star Ruth Negga is featured in the August 2017 issue of Town & Country.
It has been a busy year for Negga. In February she attended the Academy Awards, a best actress nominee for her role in the civil rights drama Loving. Even though she was up against a formidable roster (Emma Stone, Natalie Portman), there was reasonable hope of victory. “The stabbing simplicity of Negga’s acting is breathtaking,” Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers wrote of her portrayal of Mildred Loving, one half of a mixed-race couple whose marriage was the center of a landmark Supreme Court ruling in the 1960s.
Negga was born in Ethiopia’s capital city, Addis Ababa, in 1982 to a white Irish mother and a black Ethiopian father. In the mid-’80s, during a period of growing political instability, there was “a window during which the educated people began to leave,” she says. “But not my father.”
Instead Ruth and her mother moved to Ireland, and her father, a surgeon, stayed behind. By the time he tried to leave, “the window had closed.” He died when she was seven. “Murdered in a car crash,” she says. “I mean killed in an accident.” They were notified by letter. “It’s not a taboo subject,” she says. “My mom talks about my dad a lot. It’s awful to not know someone who you look like. It’s tragic, but that’s life, isn’t it?”
Her mother was one of nine children, and Negga grew up in her hometown of Limerick. “In Ireland there weren’t very many black people. I was sort of exotic.” Her aunts and uncles produced many cousins, four of them about her age, all living on Dooradoyle Road in Limerick. Four boys and Ruth, roaming the fields. When she went to the Oscars she took her mother and one of those boys, now full-grown. Her mother sat upstairs, and her cousin sat beside her, beaming, because of a childhood promise.
egga was cast in Loving and Preacher at around the same time, and her last two years have been spent hopscotching between obligations. “I think I should probably take a break,” she says when I ask what she’s doing next. “Maybe visit my house in London. Turn my refrigerator back on.”
Preacher airs Mondays at 9/8c on AMC.
Photography: Victor Demarchelier / Styling: Nicoletta Santoro