Oyelowo, David: Actor Profile

David Oyelowo (pronounced “oh-yellow-oh”) plays Martin Luther King Jr. in the accalimed drama “Selma,” which Paramount will release on Christmas Day.

A classically trained stage actor who is working successfully and simultaneously in film, television and theater, has quickly become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents. Oyelowo graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), and received the “Scholarship for Excellence” from Nicholas Hytner in 1998.

Directed by Ava DuVernay and produced by Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt’s Plan B, the film follows Dr. King’s struggle to secure voting rights for all people culminating in the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama and President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.  The film has already generated buzz amongst critics and will open early next year.

Oyelowo can also be seen in Christopher Nolan’s space travel, sci-fi adventure, Interstellar, with an ensemble including Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Casey Affleck, and Topher Grace.

Additionally, he co-stars in A Most Violent Year opposite Jessica Chastain and Oscar Isaac.  Written and directed by J.C. Chandor, the film follows the story of an American immigrant (Isaac) and his wife (Chastain) during the winter of 1981 in New York City, one of the city’s most violent years. He was recently seen in the thriller, Default. Directed by Simon Brand, the film follows an American news crew whose plane is hijacked by Somali pirates.

Oyelowo recently wrapped production on Captive, a true-life crime thriller about a drug-addicted single mother (Kate Mara) who finds herself taken hostage in her apartment by an escaped convict (Oyelowo) after he murders the judge overseeing his trial.  Oyelowo also serves as a producer on the film.  Oyelowo will also star in Nina, a biographical drama focused on late musician, Nina Simone (played by Zoe Saldana) and her relationship with her manager, Clifton Henderson (Oyelowo) and Nightingale, a psychological drama in which Oyelowo plays the solitary character, Peter Snowden, an Iraq war veteran who suffers a mental breakdown.

Last summer, Oyelowo co-starred in Lee Daniels’ The Butler, alongside Forest Whitaker, John Cusack, James Marsden and Oprah Winfrey.  The film follows the story of Cecil Gaines, who served eight presidents as the White House’s head butler during several years of political and racial change.  In 2012, Oyelowo was seen in Steven Spielberg’s Oscar nominated drama Lincoln, with Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones.

The film received countless accolades including nominations for “Best Picture” at the most recent Oscars, Golden Globes and SAG Awards, in addition to many others. He also starred in the critically acclaimed independent drama, Middle Of Nowhere, which earned rave reviews at the 2012 Sundance and Toronto Film Festivals.

Oyelowo received nominations for “Best Supporting Actor” at the 2013 NAACP Image Awards and Independent Spirit Awards for his work in the film. In 2012, he was also seen opposite Tom Cruise in Jack Reacher, a drama based on a book in Lee Child’s popular crime series.  The film tells the story of a homicide investigator who digs deeper into a case involving a trained military sniper who has shot five random victims.

In the fall of 2012, he co-starred in Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy, opposite Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron. The film received a standing ovation following its premiere at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.

On television, he starred in the British made for television movie, Complicit, which aired in the UK last winter.

Additional film credits include George Lucas’ produced bio-pic, Red Tails, which won “Best Motion Picture” at the 2013 NAACP Image Awards, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, alongside James Franco and Frieda Pinto, the Academy Award nominated drama The Help, 96 Minutes, which premiered at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival, Kevin MacDonald’s The Last King Of Scotland opposite Forrest Whittaker and James MacAvoy, Who Do You Love, in which he played the iconic Muddy Waters, A Sound Of Thunder for Warner Bros, Derailed for Miramax, The Best Man for Redbus, and his most challenging screen role to date, the acclaimed BBC2 film shoot the messenger.

Oyelowo first impressed audiences on the stage when he starred in The Suppliants at the Gate Theatre playing King Palasgus, for which he received the Ian Charleson award commendation.  Following this he played the title role of Henry VI, becoming the first black actor to play an English king for the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company).  The role won him The Ian Charleson Award and an Evening Standard award nomination. Other theatre credits include an acclaimed performance in Richard Bean’s The God Botherers at the Bush Theatre and the title role in Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound, which was off-Broadway for which Oyelowo received rave reviews.

Beyond theatre, Oyelowo starred in the BAFTA award winning series Spooks/MI:5 playing Danny Hunter.  MI:5 also aired in the US on BBC America.  Additionally, he won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor and was also nominated for a BAFTA for the same role for his work on Small Island.  Oyelowo also starred in the BBC1 original television movie Born Equal, opposite Colin Firth as well as ABC’s 2008 production of A Raisin In The Sun, alongside Sanaa Lathan and Sean Combs.

Oyelowo made his U.S. debut in two HBO productions.  First starring in the Kenneth Branagh directed As You Like It, in which he played Orlando opposite Bryce Dallas Howard, which aired in August 2006.  In October of the same year he was again seen on HBO as the lead in the mini-series Five Days, for which he won the Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for his performance.  In 2008, Oyelowo starred in the acclaimed adaptation of the Alexander McCall Smith novel, The No.1 Ladies Detective Agency, directed by the late Anthony Minghella.

Oyelowo currently resides in Los Angeles, California.