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Ethiopian-Irish actress Ruth Negga graces the cover of ‘Vogue’

The ‘Loving’ star doesn’t hold back about her identity in the January issue

Actress Ruth Negga is starting the new year early by gracing the January issue of Vogue.

In the issue, Negga, 35, discusses past roles, her lead role in the 2016 film Loving and growing up as an Ethiopian-Irish woman.

Before the release of Loving, Negga was best known for her roles in the 2013 thriller World War Z and the 2014 drama Of Mind and Music. Now, the actress is playing Tulip O’Hare in the AMC television series Preacher. But it’s Negga’s performance in Loving that’s creating Oscar buzz.

Loving is based on the true story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple whose fight to be viewed as legally married in the state of Virginia in the 1950s made it all the way to the Supreme Court. The court ruled in favor of the Lovings, stating that the Virginia law had no purpose “independent of invidious racial discrimination … The Fourteenth Amendment requires that the freedom of choice to marry not be restricted by invidious racial discrimination. Under our Constitution, the freedom to marry, or not marry, a person of another race resides with the individual, and cannot be infringed by the State.”

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 28: Atmosphere at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations: "Loving" With Ruth Negga And Director Jeff Nichols at NYIT Auditorium on October 21, 2016 in New York City.

Atmosphere at the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations: Loving with Ruth Negga and director Jeff Nichols at NYIT Auditorium on Oct. 21 in New York.

Steven A Henry/Getty Images

Although Negga says she never experienced discrimination like Mildred Loving, Negga does discuss her life growing up as the daughter of an Irish mother and an Ethiopian father.

Negga was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, but fled to Ireland with her mother after political violence gripped Ethiopia’s capital in the 1980s. Their plans to move to America were cut short after her father was killed in a car accident.

At age 11, Negga relocated to England, where, she said, she really became aware of her identity while also becoming drawn to the writing of Toni Morrison, Maya Angelou and James Baldwin.

“I didn’t have that many black people in my life, so I had to sort of search them out,” she told Vogue. “And I didn’t grow up in America, but I identified as much with their writing about the black experience as I did with their writing about the human experience.”

Maya Jones is an associate editor at The Undefeated. She is a native New Orleanian who enjoys long walks down Frenchmen Street and romantic dates to Saints games.