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Courtesy of Focus Features

'Loving' Actress Ruth Negga Dissects Mildred Loving And Her Quest For Equality

Actress Ruth Negga dissects the Jeff Nichols directed film Loving, in which a black woman and white man changed the course of American history.

On an oddly warm November day in New York City, the Gemma Restaurant at the Bowery Hotel was patroned by a few. A mother of two holding her son's hand and scolding her pre-teen daughter engulfed in her cell phone as she nearly walked into a bar stool was about as about as busy as the Italian restaurant got during the mid-day. The morning staff was cleaning up as the night staff began stocking glasses, cutlery and plates for the evening rush.

Press had begun for the Jeff Nichols directed film Loving, a romantic drama about interracial Virginia couple Richard and Mildred Loving who were wed in D.C. and began building their life back in the country. Their marriage soon made its way to the sheriff resulting in the couple's arrest. Richard, a white man, was able to make bail the next morning. Mildred, a pregnant 19-year-old however, stayed in prison a few days. To avoid jail time, the court in Central Point, Va., banished the couple to D.C and ordered them never to return for 25 years.

From there, the film follows the couple as their civil rights case, Loving. v. Virginia, makes its way to the Supreme Court, which ruled in favor of their right to marry.  Joel Egerton and Ruth Negga take on the emotionally complex task of playing Richard and Mildred. Despite his tough demeanor, it was Richard who was often paralyzed by fear for himself and his family. Mildred however, continued to fight. Mildred's approach, similarly to her personality, was quiet yet steady. She never made a fuss, but it was her unrelenting zeal to protect her husband and children that motivated her to write a letter to then Attorney General Robert Kennedy, who referred her to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) which would later change history.

Months removed from the role she said she took two years preparing for, Ruth Negga, an Ethiopian and Irish actress walks into the Gemma Restaurant main dinning room holding a plate full of lettuce, tomato and chicken. It was the 34-year-old's first meal for the day. Negga, although 5-foot-3-inches has a much taller and grander personality. Bold in her speech, and matter-of-fact in her responses, Negga admits she's more reactive than the demure Mildred, and has a bit more fire. We sat for 15 minutes or so, and chatted about the film's intricacies and reveal despite the positive outcome, Mildred's true intentions was to keep her family together. Challenging the United States government and winning, well that was just the cherry on top.

Vibe: How did you become Mildred?
Ruth Negga: I did my work, I did my homework I studied her. I studied how she moved, how she walked, her dialect, her vocal intonation and we had this archive of footage that was valuable and in my mind I put it in the gaps. I think when you spend enough time with someone you sort of anticipate their differences. Working with Jeff [Nichols] and Joe [Edgerton] I got to see what they would be when the cameras roll, but I think it’s also an evolution of a human being that starts off as a very young girl and she’s telling [Richard] that she’s pregnant. I mean, It’s a normal response.

In the film, it was Mildred who was more welcoming of the media in regards to getting their story out. Richard was not.
Well he was desperately shy, they both were inherently shy and I think that neither of them, he definitely didn’t want media attention. She saw it as a way to attain what they both wanted eventually. I don’t think she really knew how, but it was small steps of moving in the right direction with raising their family and living where they wanted to and that was the most important thing for Mildred. She didn’t set out to be an activist. She didn’t set out to invalidate the American Constitution, yet those are things that happened and I’m sure she’s glad of it. But how brave would you have been, or I have been to do that? I think if she would’ve seen it in those big terms it would’ve been overwhelming.

Mildred later writes a letter to then Attorney General Robert Kennedy and Kennedy refers her to the ACLU. What do you think she would've done if Kennedy never responded to her letter?
Thats a good question. I think she would have found her way to the ACLU anyway. I think the letter was a turning point in her life when she became committed.

You think the letter is when she became committed, and not when her son got hit by the car in D.C?
Oh no, I think that was when she was going to leave D.C. Those are two different things but they're parallel. She was going to move back home to Virginia, but she became committed to pursue law when her friend said 'You need to get yourself some civil rights.' It was many different moments but I think that if her son didn’t get hit by a car, she was moving [back to Virginia] and she didn’t care. I think the lesson is her pursuing justice, and I think she would’ve found another lane, or another avenue because you have to remember she wrote another letter saying 'Please don’t forget this.' So that’s a woman who’s not letting this go.

How do you think the film will speak to the social media generation that allegedly doesn't believe in relationships?
I hope it speaks to them the same way it will speak to any human being. I think what this film is saying is we are capable of great kindness towards one another. We're capable of great perseverance and we are obsessed with being sane, but what’s wrong with being equally different? I don’t really understand that? It doesn’t mean that we aren’t equal and I’m not saying separately that’s a completely different thing, but I’m saying that differences are there to make us more interesting. Differences are there to make us more intriguing to one another. Differences are there to be celebrated and I think that this film is just another reminder of that.

There's a scene in the film where Mildred and Richard travel back to Virginia to have their baby. Richard goes outside on the porch and his mother says 'Why did you have to marry that girl? You knew better.' Even though white and black people lived well together in Central Point, that part in the film was jarring.
..and Garnett [Ruth’s sister] says ‘You knew what would happen?. Why’d you take her there?’ It’s very important that Jeff Nichols wanted viewers to know that this just wasn’t an upset of the white community, it was both communities and both would’ve seen this as why would you bother? Richard’s friend said ‘Why don’t you just divorce her?' They didn’t understand why would you create any friction? Why would you want to upset what we have because all you’re doing is bringing tension and I don’t think that comes from a place of hatred or racism. I think it comes from community values. We’ve been doing it for this long, why would you bring any hassle into our community? I’m sure there were people who were disappointed, but Mildred and Richard wanted to get married and they wanted to legitimately be on their own, and for their children.

There's also a part in the film where Richard is at the bar with some of Mildred's brothers and the conversation around the table was Richard now knows what its like to be black. How do you think Mildred internalized or felt for Richard's pain?
I think there’s a tradition for black women in those communities that women had to mind their communities, their children and their men, and when you take away a man’s way to provide for his family, or you take away his pride in himself and his relationship, I feel that sometimes women's instinct is to give that back. I think they support their men from that sense and I think she’s doing the same. You see his impression at the jail. He says ‘That’s not right. That’s not fair’ What could he do? And that’s what Will’s character is saying. ‘Now you know what it’s like when you can’t protect your family.’I think that Mildred is just like a lot of women at that time. She’s representing a lot of black women at that and that’s their job is to give back that strength to their men in the community, which I find fascinating.

Has you definition of love changed from making this film?
I don’t believe in the definition of love. I don’t believe you can really define that, It’s too tangible. I think you know it when you see it and I think what [Richard and Mildred] do prove is that it can be such a tangible thing. It’s a very physical thing feeling love for someone. I don’t mean just falling in love and being attracted to someone, I mean really wanting the best for them and wanting to care for them and their respect and you see that in the documentary “The Loving Story: Home” For me they are the epitomes of love.

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Comedy duo Desus & Mero have kept their brand strong since joining forces in 2012 but the newly-appointed CEO of Vice believes their move to Showtime wasn't the best decision.

In an interview with Elle, Nancy Dubuc shared her plans to rebuild the outlet since reports of sexual harassment allegations, unlawful HR practices and the stepping down of Shane Smith came to light this year. Changing the bro culture has removed content and replacing it with more substantial content and finding gems that will also replace the gap left by Desus & Mero.

The guys brought high ratings to the network during their reign from August 2016 to June 2018, but Dubuc doesn't see this happening for their upcoming series at Showtime. “They’re going to a platform that their audience doesn’t pay for,” she said.  “I told them, ‘You can always come back.’”

In an interview with Bossip over the summer, the guys revealed their contracts were cut two months early after news about their deal with Showtime went public. They show consisted of the two commentating on the latest in politics and pop culture while interviewing big names like Gabrielle Union, Rachel Maddow, Diddy, Vic Mensa and Tracee Ellis Ross. They also opened up about their organic approach in comedy was nearly butchered when the network demanded them to work 24/7.

“We were carrying that network on our back, and we felt the weight,” Desus said. “They were talking about, ‘Do not take the weeks off because we don’t get ratings,’ and it’s like, 'Yo, we’re just two people.'”

“We were literally the LeBron of that network,” Mero added. “As a dad, you wanna be around for milestones for like graduations, birthdays…and it’s obnoxious to have to be like, ‘I can’t go to my kid’s graduation because we leave the studio at 3 o’clock and the graduation is at 4.’”

Mero believed the duo were undervalued and not appreciated by the network until it was too late. Their brand transcended platforms as the guys are still active on Twitter and their podcast roots, taking the brand to new heights.

“The channel wanted us to die for this f**king network,” Desus said at the time.  “We’re also the highest rated show on the network, put some respect on our name, have someone come massage my feet.”

We doubt the duo will go back to Vice as excitement for their series on Showtime continues to grow. The guys are already making strides by adding black women to their writing team and recently dropped a teaser for the show.

The brand is strong. #DESUSandMERO are bringing the culture to #Showtime beginning Thurs, Feb 21, at 11p/10c! #BodegaHive pic.twitter.com/3DwcWXgrEO

— Desus & Mero on SHOWTIME (@SHODesusAndMero) November 29, 2018

Desus and Mero will premiere on Showtime Feb. 21 at 11 pm ET.

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“A lot of these deejays was sleepin’ on me… they was frontin’ on the kid!” Cardi exclaimed. Cardi also discussed her childhood growing up in the Bronx, which included keeping a razor blade in her cheek just in case some crazy sh*t goes down, as well as her affinity for ASMR videos. She also performed at a senior citizens' home at the end of the clip to a rousing response.

Perhaps the best part of the segment was her attempt to drive. Facilitated by a conversation in which the two discussed her five luxury cars, Cardi hit a few cones and flags while trying to maneuver in and out during a lesson. She said that the car (a Range Rover) was a bit big for her, but her lack of driving skills period resulted in her hitting a camera during her attempt at parallel parking.

“I couldn’t rap about these cars because I didn’t own them,” she laughed before adding, "[Driving] is scary.”

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Dungey will work directly with fellow vp, Cindy Holland, and Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Saranados. Her position involves overseeing the streaming network's current deals, which include the Obamas’ Higher Ground Productions company.

The move also re-teams Dungey with Shonda Rhimes’ and Black-Ish creator, Kenya Barriss, both of whom left ABC and signed with Netflix.

In addition, Dungey will oversee a group of executives who have worked on Narcos, House of Cards, and other big shows on the streaming network.

"I'm drawn to the forward-thinking, risk-taking and creative culture at Netflix, and the deeply talented people there, especially Ted and Cindy, with whom I’m excited to partner on setting the strategy for original content," Dungey said in a statement. "Given that ABC, the place I’ve called home for nearly 15 years, represents the gold standard of traditional broadcast, it feels like the perfect next step for me to join Netflix, the unparalleled leader in streaming. I'm invigorated by the challenges ahead and the opportunity to forge new relationships, and excited for the very welcome reunion with incredible talent."

In 2016, Dungey was named president of ABC, making her the first Black woman to lead any of the four major networks. She began her career with the company in 2004, and worked her way up to executive vice president of the network’s drama division developing hit shows such as Scandal, Quantico, Hot To Get Away with Murder and American Crime, before being promoted to network lead. Her exit from ABC came in November, shortly after firing Roseanne Barr for making racist comments.

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