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Gugu Mbatha-Raw was destined to play Belle

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May 15, 2014 | 7:19pm EDT

British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw is convinced she was destined to play Dido Elizabeth Belle in director Amma Asante's new period movie Belle because she grew up in the English town where much of the film was shot. The young star was inspired to learn about the mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral she would eventually play after meeting producer Damian Jones long before there was even a script for the film and she purchased a postcard featuring her character's portrait, which she carried around with her for two years. The picture became a lucky charm when Mbatha-Raw was invited to audition for the lead - and then she was whisked off to Oxfordshire, where she grew up, to shoot scenes. She tells Access Hollywood Live, "We actually shot some scenes in the movie in my home town of Oxford, which was crazy - trotting through the streets in a carriage... A couple of my really old school friends and one of my art teachers came and visited the set."

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