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More Than 'Skin' Deep

Playing a biographical figure poses a host of challenges—most pointedly accuracy, or at least capturing the person's essence. Sophie Okonedo doesn't dispute that, though she insists mimicry is not her style and in the end the script is her bible. In her latest film, the weird and disturbing "Skin," she plays the still-living Sandra Laing, a woman of mixed heritage. Set in apartheid-era South Africa, it recounts the tormented experiences of a black child born to two white Afrikaners who are unaware of their black ancestry and determined to raise their child as a Caucasian. Sandra has no idea she is black—or even of mixed race—until she is 10 years old and brutalized and ostracized at the white school she attends. The film follows Sandra's 30-year journey, including her love affair with an abusive black man, estrangement from her parents, and ultimate reconciliation with her mother.Okonedo met

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