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Why Ravonna Renslayer From Loki Looks So Familiar

Warning: The below article contains discussions around suicide, mental illness, drug abuse, sexual abuse, and miscarriages.

There's a multiverse of characters to keep track of within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so we don't blame you if you feel like you need a who's-who refresher every now and again. But when it comes to Marvel Studios' "Loki," you'll want to be closely familiar with Ravonna Renslayer. Played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Ravonna is the TVA judge who seeks to hold Loki (Tom Hiddleston) accountable for messing with timelines as a "variant." However, Ravonna has led several mysterious lives throughout differing timelines: She was once Rebecca Tourminet, a vice-principal in Ohio. Before becoming a judge in the main timeline, she was a TVA Minuteman bearing the code name "Hunter A-23." From what we've seen so far, Ravonna is a formidable force. By the end of Season 1, she vanishes — and in Season 2, that mystery will undoubtedly take center stage.

So, where have you seen Gugu Mbatha-Raw before? A talented British actress, Mbatha-Raw has appeared in several notable projects — from a beloved episode of Netflix's "Black Mirror" to starring in critically acclaimed films crafted by esteemed directors. If you're enticed by her acting chops on "Loki," here are several other films and series to add to your watchlist soon.

Belle was Gugu Mbatha-Raw's breakthrough role

After appearing in a few "Doctor Who" episodes as Tish, Martha's (Freema Agyeman) sister, and a minor role in "Larry Crowne," Mbatha-Raw landed her first lead feature film role with 2013's "Belle." Directed by British auteur Amma Asante, "Belle" reimagines the real-life story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, a Black woman who joined high society. She was the offspring of an affair between an enslaved woman and a Royal Navy officer. After being brought to England, Dido lives with her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray (Sarah Gadon), and their great-uncle William Murray, the 1st Earl of Mansfield (Tom Wilkinson). Notably, Belle is the subject of Johann Zoffany's 18th-century painting, which depicts Dido smiling in fanciful garments near Lady Elizabeth. Asante was inspired by the painting, noting to NPR in 2014, "For anybody who's lucky enough to see the painting, what you see is something very, very different. You see a biracial girl, a woman of color, who's painted slightly higher in the painting, depicted slightly higher than her white counterpart ... This painting flipped tradition and everything that the 18th century told us about portraiture." 

"Belle" is a charming and endearing portrait of Dido Elizabeth Belle, and Mbatha-Raw shines in the role. If you love period pieces, you won't want to miss "Belle."

Beyond the Lights was a huge project for Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Just a year after "Belle," Mbatha-Raw teamed up with Gina Prince-Blythewood — a pioneering Black female director known for projects like "The Old Guard," "Love & Basketball," and "The Woman King" — for the romantic drama "Beyond the Lights." Prince-Blythewood casts Mbatha-Raw as Noni Jean, a talented girl primed for fame since childhood by her controlling mother, Macy (Minnie Driver). However, the movie starts with Noni in dire emotional straits. Despite her overwhelming success in the music industry and a high-profile relationship with fellow performer Kid Culprit (Machine Gun Kelly), Noni struggles with the pressure that comes with success and considers suicide.

Before she leaps off a hotel balcony, a police officer named Kaz Nicol (Nate Parker) saves her. The two strike up a romance unlike the staged one Noni has with Kid Culprit. Even though she feels like her full self around Kaz, Noni struggles to keep their relationship afloat due to outside influences — Macy disapproves and Kid Culprit publicly assaults her. Eventually, Noni reclaims her life, revealing her love for Kaz to the world and cutting ties with her mother. "Beyond the Lights" isn't an easy watch, but it's a crucial project in Mbatha-Raw's career.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw played Will Smith's wife in Concussion

"Concussion" presents a searing look at how the National Football League covered up brain injuries incurred by its players ... and how those injuries contributed to the deaths or suicides of said players. Will Smith plays Bennet Omalu, who, in real life, revealed research on chronic traumatic encephalopathy — known colloquially as "CTE" — which led the NFL to target Bennet personally.

Mbatha-Raw stars in the film as Bennet's wife Prema Mutiso. As the NFL starts going after Bennet, trying to get him arrested on trumped-up charges, they follow Prema while she's driving: The stress is so severe that she experiences a miscarriage. Ultimately, Bennet and Prema leave their home in Pittsburgh and move to California to avoid the NFL's smear campaign. Though Bennet's research is proven correct, he and his wife have a difficult journey, and Mbatha-Raw's emotional performance drives that point home.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw stunned in this critically acclaimed Black Mirror episode

"Black Mirror" can be a devastating experience ... but anyone looking for a lighter episode of Charlie Brooker's anthology series should absolutely watch "San Junipero." The Season 3 outing stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Mackenzie Davis as Kelly and Yorkie, two polar opposites who fall in love while spending time at a beach town named San Junipero. The story takes a strange twist, though, when the initial 1980s setting shifts to the early aughts — even though neither of the characters age. Soon, it's revealed that San Junipero is a simulation for the dying and elderly. When Kelly (played in the real world by Denise Burke) visits Yorkie's body (Annabel Davis) in real life, she learns that Yorkie got into a car accident as a young woman after she tried to come out to her parents and they reacted poorly. Yorkie's consciousness has been in San Junipero ever since. She wants to be euthanized and spend her afterlife in San Junipero forever.

Kelly is hesitant to join Yorkie at first, mostly because her husband elected not to join the simulation. But unlike most "Black Mirror" episodes, this one ends happily — if you consider death a happy ending. Mbatha-Raw and Davis do all the heavy emotional lifting in this episode, and it paid off, winning the series two Emmy Awards in 2017.

Gugu Mbatha-Raw starred in the trippy superhero film Fast Color

Beyond Marvel and DC's respective cinematic universes, there is no shortage of superhero-inspired films out there. Mbatha-Raw's 2018 project "Fast Color" is a worthy addition to the genre. Mbatha-Raw stars as Ruth, a young woman living in a dystopian Midwest who has an unusual power. When she has a seizure, it results in a massive earthquake. Ruth does her best to avoid the scientists hunting her. She wants to reunite with her mother, Bo (Lorraine Toussaint), who also possesses powers. Bo, unlike Ruth, has some control of them: She can take apart and rearrange objects with her mind as well as see what she refers to as "the colors." To make everything more complicated, Bo has been taking care of Ruth's daughter, Lila, who barely knows her mother.

The movie received solid reviews, with many praising Mbatha-Raw specifically for her central performance. "Fast Color" can be a disturbing and difficult watch for some, but it's certainly worth seeking out if you want to get a full picture of Mbatha-Raw's career.

The Morning Show was a short yet pivotal role for Gugu Mbatha-Raw

When AppleTV+ launched in 2019, "The Morning Show" served as the flagship series for Apple's streaming service. Alongside huge names like Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell, Mbatha-Raw plays a crucial role in the show's debut season. In Season 1, the actress plays Hannah Schoenfeld, the talent booker for the titular morning show, which opens with the shocking news that its lead anchor, Mitch Kessler (Carell), is being let go after rampant accusations of sexual impropriety.

Of course, this revelation sends shockwaves throughout the network. However, Hannah is hiding something truly harrowing through it all. Eventually, we learn that when the two travel to Las Vegas to cover a breaking news story, Mitch assaults Hannah. When she tries to tell the network president Fred Micklen (Tom Irwin) about it, he gives her a promotion to keep her quiet. Without spoiling how her story ends, Mbatha-Raw plays a gutwrenching role on "The Morning Show." To her credit, her character's struggles feel real and deeply tragic.

The Girl Before was a creepy showcase for Gugu Mbatha-Raw

Despite only running for four episodes, the BBC One-HBO Max production "The Girl Before" is a significant entry in Mbatha-Raw's career. Within the miniseries, the actress plays the lead role of Jane. She discovers a beautiful, minimalistic house with wildly low rent, but there are a ton of catches involved. The inhabitant can only have specific belongings, the house has a ton of rules, and no children are allowed inside. The title also refers to another mystery in the show — what exactly happened to Emma (Jessica Plummer), the woman who lived there before? Also, is the house's architect Edward (David Oyelowo) involved in some way?

This question only becomes more important after Jane and Edward strike up a romantic relationship and Jane worries that she might be pregnant. From there, the story is full of wild twists and turns that'll leave you equally unsettled and captivated. Mbatha-Raw is capable of carrying her own show, and she proved that handily in "The Girl Before."

Gugu Mbatha-Raw carries a series with Surface

Just a year after 2021's "The Girl Before," Mbatha-Raw landed another leading role in a series. In "Surface," Mbatha-Raw plays a young woman named Sophie Ellis who wakes up after an apparent suicide attempt with no memory. As she tries to uncover why she would go to such lengths, she makes some unsettling discoveries ... including her real name.

Honestly, the less you know going into the first season of "Surface," the better. Still, the cast alongside Mbatha-Raw is notably impressive, including names like Oliver Jackson-Cohen ("The Haunting of Hill House" and "The Haunting of Bly Manor"), Stephan James ("If Beale Street Could Talk"), Ari Graynor ("I'm Dying Up Here"), Millie Brady ("The Last Kingdom"), and François Arnaud ("Yellowjackets"). While Mbatha-Raw's filmography is darker than the usual MCU fare, if you love her work on "Loki," definitely take some time to watch some of her heavy-hitting projects.

If you or anyone you know needs help with suicidal thoughts, addiction, mental health, or has experienced sexual assault, contact the relevant resources below: