Mildred Loving encountered many harrowing obstacles on her journey to end the ban on interracial marriage, but Ruth Negga found one incident in Loving’s life especially difficult to portray onscreen.
The Ethiopian-Irish actress stars as the reluctant civil rights activist in Jeff Nichol’s Loving, which tells the true story of how Mildred and her husband Richard helped to end anti-miscegenation laws in America.
Long before their case went to the Supreme Court, Mildred, a young African-American woman, was arrested for cohabiting with her white husband. (They had married in Washington D.C. and returned to live in their home state of Virginia, where interracial marriage was illegal).
Police officers stormed into the Loving’s home in the middle of the night and hauled them both to jail. While Richard made bail, Mildred was forced to spend the weekend in a jail cell — while pregnant with the couple’s first child.
“I think what I found quite hard was the prison scenes when she’s in the jail on her own,” Negga tells PEOPLE in an exclusive clip from the “Ones to Watch” series.
“We actually visited the jail cell that she was held in and it is literally tiny … and to imagine a woman heavily pregnant, a young woman at that time – a young black woman in a jail cell at that time – I felt that was quite hard for me because I just thought what an experience she must have had … It was very traumatic for her,” says the actress, adding, “I found that quite difficult.”
Check out the clip above for more with the budding star, including where she sees herself in the next 10 years.
Loving hits theaters Nov. 4.