Gugu Mbatha-Raw Channels Whitney Houston in 'Beyond the Lights'

by 4:22 PM PDT, October 03, 2014
Playing Gugu Mbatha-Raw Channels Whitney Houston in 'Beyond the Lights'

ET's Nancy O'Dell sat down with rising star Gugu Mbatha-Raw to get her take on the comparisons being made between her upcoming film Beyond the Lights and Whitney Houston's classic 1992 film The Bodyguard.

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"I was quite young when [The Bodyguard] came out," said Gugu, 31, who would not have been old enough to see the R-rated film when it first came out. "What's great about Beyond the Lights is that even though it's set in the music industry it's very much of our time now."

In the film, Gugu plays a pop diva named Noni Jean, who struggles with the pressures of her newfound stardom. The story draws parallels to today's stars.

"We took a lot of inspiration from [Rihanna] and many other artists actually," said Gugu.

VIDEO: Soon Everyone Will Be Talking About Gugu Mbatha-Raw

The British actress hasn't been seen much in the U.S. -- yet. She starred in Belle, a lush costume drama based on the true story of a young biracial woman raised in British high society, and will appear with Keanu Reeves in The Whole Truth and Channing Tatum in Jupiter Ascending, both out next year.

She told ET that she's thankful to have gone into movies as opposed to music, as it gives her a chance to leave her characters behind when she steps off set. For a music star, however, the image you portray can sometimes take over your entire life.

"Everyone is talented, but what do you give away in the process?" said Gugu. "In the case of Noni, my character, it's her soul really."

Check out the video to see the cameo ET's Rocsi Diaz has in the film, out November 14.