Sophia Nomvete took on two of the biggest challenges of her life at the same exact time when she signed on to star in The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power – adding an original character to J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth, and becoming a first-time mother.
“It is a dream come true on a personal level, and on a career level,” Nomvete said of joining one of the most beloved fantasy lores in history. “I am the first female Black dwarf to have ever been seen cinematically or to touch Tolkien’s work.”
“I am a mother, and to be able to host this character who is a princess, a regal, formidable woman, it is everything that I believe the world and the franchise need and should be really really proud of, and I am beyond excited to be a part of that.”
In Prime Video’s prequel spinoff of The Lord of the Rings, Nomvete portrays Princess Disa of Khazad-dûm. As wife of Prince Durin IV, she helps rule over the then-thriving and active kingdom, a much different society than the crumbling underground realm we see in the events of The Lord of the Rings that take place thousands of years later.
As a leader of her people and her family, she is one of “the cogs that keep Khazad-dûm moving,” as Nomvete describes her, and uses her talents, wits, and strengths to keep her loved ones’ legacy upheld. The actress says she cannot wait for fans to see “the many layers of Princess Disa” over the course of season 1.
“She is warm, she is confident, she is unapologetic. She stands in her power, she is sexually charged, she is beautiful and strong,” she said.
Joining the cast of the most expensive streaming production in history just as the world was tossed into unprecedented times, Nomvete had the fortune of relocating to the lush New Zealand countryside, where the new chapter in the classic tale was crafted.
“New Zealand is one of the most beautiful places in the entire world,” she said, noting that she was able to bring her family, including her then 8-week-old daughter with her for filming. “During a time when the world was going through one of the biggest challenges we’ve seen, the pandemic, it was truly a gift and a blessing to be positioned in a little slice of heaven and to be able to raise our family, and the family of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power in such a special place.”
Bringing her new baby along with her for the ride, Nomvete quickly discovered her power and drive while juggling motherhood and work in a unique, high-pressure circumstance.
“What it was was empowering,” Nomvete said of the experience of tending to motherly duties between filming the role of a lifetime. “It proved to me, and I hope to the rest of the world, the endless possibilities of a woman and a parent.”
“I was breastfeeding between takes. I was trying to learn how to be a mother along the journey of hitting my biggest career moment to date. And I’m still here. My daughter and my husband are very well and hugely supportive, and we are thriving.”
“It felt like a blessing because it pushed me to a [level] that I didn’t know I had, and now I get to remove a coat of any anxieties or question of self-worth and spread the word to all women that we are, in fact, superheroes, if anyone ever questioned that.”
Despite tapping into her strength like never before to create a character she’s proud of and excited for audiences to experience, Nomvete still had a nasty downside to acting in a fantasy series to face. Like many Black actors before her joining the cast of a property with intense fandom, she had to take on the daggers of racist trolls balking at the diverse cast of characters in this new imagining of Middle Earth in the Second Age.
“I’m human, so I was not immune to any of that,” Nomvete explained. “But I have to look at the bigger picture, and the bigger picture is that I am here. It is our turn. It is my turn. And Middle Earth is such a beautiful world as we see it today.”
“So, I focus on the millions of people who are supporting and screaming from the rooftops with excitement to see themselves staring back at them; to see us heard and seen and valued as a member of the film industry in a project of this scale.”
“That is the driving force. That is the focus. And I urge anyone who questions that to come along for the ride because it is extraordinary and it is so much more fun in a place of inclusivity and reality of what the world looks like.”
The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power premieres September 2 on Prime Video.