Limerick's Ruth Negga 'truly humbled' by Academy Award nomination

Actress up for award for star turn in Jeff Nichols' Loving

Anne Sheridan


Anne Sheridan

Limerick's Ruth Negga 'truly humbled' by Academy Award nomination

Ruth Negga with her cousin Dave Malone at the recent Golden Globes

LIMERICK’S first Oscar nominee since Richard Harris 25 years ago has said she is “truly humbled” by her nomination.

Irish-Ethiopian Ruth Negga was this week announced as one of five nominees for a best actress award at the Oscars.

Her fellow nominees are Natalie Portman (Jackie), Meryl Streep (Florence Foster Jenkins), Emma Stone (La La Land), and Isabelle Huppert (Elle).

“I am truly humbled by the news, and I thank the Academy for this recognition, which I share with my co-collaborators Jeff Nichols and Joel Edgerton,” she said in a statement.

The former Love/Hate star, 35, is nominated for her role in Loving, which tells the true story of an illegal inter-racial marriage in 1950s Virginia.

The couple battled before the Supreme Court in 1967 for their right to live together as husband and wife.

“It has been such an honour to have been given the opportunity to tell the incredible story of Richard and Mildred Loving, who serve as an inspiration that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.

“The Lovings fought quietly yet tirelessly, and changed the course of American legal history.

“To be among such extraordinary women - my fellow nominees, my peers with films this year, and the legendary performers whose work of years past has long inspired me. This means a really great deal to me,” she said.

Mayor of Limerick, Cllr Kieran O'Hanlon, said he will be writing to her on behalf of the citizens of Limerick to send his congratulations and every best wish for the upcoming ceremony itself.

“I was absolutely delighted to hear the news at lunchtime, and all of Limerick is certainly rooting for her. It's great for Limerick - we're on the map now in the film industry, with Troy Studios to set to open in Castletroy, and now we have a second Oscar nominee,” he told the Limerick Leader.

“Win or lose, I would love to invite her and her family to a mayoral reception in City Hall, when her schedule allows for it,” said the Fianna Fail mayor.

There were celebrations in Dooradoyle in honour of the star, who counts a wide extended family in the city’s suburbs.

Ger Malone, one of Negga’s four uncles in Limerick, where she grew up in her early years, told the Leader that the news was “fantastic”.

“It's great news for Limerick and it's great news for the family,” he said.

He said he doubts he'll be attending the Oscars himself on Sunday, February 26 next, but they’ll be eagerly watching from home, while she enjoys herself with a family representative.

Mr Malone said all the family have been delighted to witness her success.

“Absolutely, we’re all very proud of her. She’s a hard worker, very committed and deserves every success. She was always a great little actress growing up.”

Among her cousins in Limerick is Peter Malone, another son of Ger, who has played rugby with Bruff, St Munchin's, Garryowen, Munster, and who is now Munster Rugby's elite player development manager. 

Her cousin Dave Malone has frequently been her companion of choice as she stepped out on successive red carpets at the Golden Globes, and previously in New York and Cannes.

Ruth’s mother Nora now lives in London, after moving from Limerick, and there are four other aunts and uncles from the Dooradoyle Road, and even more cousins.

Negga, an only child, was born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where she lived until she was four. Her mother Nora was working in Ethiopia as a nurse when she met Negga's father.

Ruth’s father was due to move to Limerick after them but died in a car accident, when she was just seven.

She went to national school in Roxborough, and later spent part of her secondary school at the all-girls Scoil Carmel on O’Connell Avenue, which has now closed its door. She moved to London and completing her drama studies at Trinity College Dublin.