Belfast Telegraph

Gugu Mbatha-Raw's corset drama

Gugu Mbatha-Raw struggled with the period costumes in Belle.

The actress plays Dido Elizabeth Belle in drama Belle, about an illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral. For the period film she had to don an array of vintage costumes, including some very uncomfortably tight dresses.

"I wasn't really aware of [the story] at all, but this is a story that needs to be told. It's a familiar Jane Austen-esque period drama, but it's told from a mixed-race female perspective," she explained to Total Film.

"We had etiquette training to get used to the bows and the curtsies... and the corsets. You need stamina, that's for sure!"

Gugu, 30, has an unusual way of getting in character for a film. She likes to associate with a relevant scent, and for Belle she chose Elizabethan Rose by Penhaligon.

“Different fragrances promote different emotions and I find that fragrance gets me in the frame of mind for that person,” she told news.instyle.com.

“Belle was classic, just like the flower."

Corsets aren't the only style challenge Gugu has had to deal with for a film. She plays a musician on the rise to stardom in Blackbird and was made to wear super high heels and hair extensions.

“These props reflect what has become goddess-like in our culture,” she reflected. “Corsets were a challenge in Belle; fake nails tripped me up in Blackbird... Guess I’m not a mani type of girl!”

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