By Cady Lang
December 7, 2016

Vogue’s first cover girl of 2017 is Ruth Negga, who opened up about making the film Loving and what it was like to grow up as the daughter of a white Irish nurse and a black Ethiopian doctor in the U.K. in the magazine’s accompanying article.

The actress plays Mildred Loving in Loving, which centers on the interracial marriage that made civil rights history, Loving vs. Virginia. As a part of the process, she recalled her own biracial experience; especially poignant is her memories of discovering her biracial identity after moving to England at age 11, not long after her father passed away.

“I remember thinking, I’m just me,” she said. “When you’re a kid, you’re just you, aren’t you? It was when I moved to England that I felt it, because I was Irish and black.”

The nuances of her background and her lived experiences have made Negga especially aware of the ways that the world views race, but she is clear in pointing out that her identity is hers and hers alone.

“People have always made assumptions about me,” she said. “I become very territorial about my identity because it’s been hijacked by so many people, with their own projections.”

Negga does hope, however, that the film’s racial politics will help to expand viewpoints — which seems all the more urgent given with the need for diversity in her industry, which she says has been “unacceptable for a long time, and it’s becoming clearly an embarrassment.”

“The film is reminding us that there’s a conversation that we need to be having still,” she said.

Read the full story at Vogue.

Write to Cady Lang at cady.lang@timemagazine.com.

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