David Oyelowo

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
David Oyelowo
David Oyelowo Photo Taken By Tyler Boye.jpg
Oyelowo in 2012
Born David Oyetokunbo Oyelowo[1]
(1976-04-01) 1 April 1976 (age 38)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Occupation Actor, producer, director, writer
Years active 1998 – present
Spouse(s) Jessica Oyelowo (m. 1998)
Children 4

David Oyetokunbo Oyelowo (born 1 April 1976) is a British actor. He is best known for his roles in the films Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Middle of Nowhere, Lincoln, and as Louis Gaines in The Butler. On television, he played MI5 agent Danny Hunter in the British series Spooks, and is playing Imperial Security Bureau agent Kallus on the animated series, Star Wars Rebels.[2] Oyelowo will star in the upcoming movie Selma, where he plays Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Early life and training[edit]

Oyelowo was born in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, in the United Kingdom, to Nigerian parents of Yoruba extraction.[3] His mother worked for a railway and his father for the national airline.[4]

He first attended a youth theatre after being invited by a girl to whom he was attracted.[5] He then studied theatre studies for A level at City and Islington College and his teacher suggested he should become an actor. After A levels Oyelowo enrolled for a year on an art foundation course, before winning a place and scholarship at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA),[6] finishing his three-year training in 1998.[7]



He began his stage career in 1999 when he was offered a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company playing roles in Ben Jonson's Volpone, as the title character in Oroonoko (which he also performed in the BBC radio adaptation) and Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra (1999) alongside Guy Henry, Frances de la Tour and Alan Bates. His next theatrical role is his best-known one – his performance as King Henry VI in the Royal Shakespeare Company's 2001 productions of Shakespeare's trilogy of plays about the king as a part of its season This England: The Histories. In a major landmark for colour-blind casting, Oyelowo was the first black actor to play an English king in a major production of Shakespeare, and although this casting choice was initially criticised by some in the media, Oyelowo's performance was critically acclaimed and later won the 2001 Ian Charleson Award for best performance by an actor under 30 in a classical play. (A few years later, in comparison, Adrian Lester's casting as Henry V drew little comment.) Oyelowo said of this experience:

"It's fascinating to work with a company of actors of such different ages, experience and talents. I'm one of a generation brought up on television whose acting is more 'naturalistic', whereas with some of the older generation it's more heightened. But I think there's room for both styles."[8]

In 2005, he appeared in a production of Prometheus Bound, which was revived in New York in 2007. In 2006, he made his directorial debut on a production of The White Devil, produced by his own theatre company in Brighton, Inservice, co-run with fellow Brighton- based actors Priyanga Burford, Israel Aduramo, Penelope Cobbuld, and his wife, Jessica.[9]


Oyelowo is best known for playing MI5 officer Danny Hunter in the British TV drama series Spooks (known in North America as MI-5) from 2002 to 2004. He had before that appeared in Tomorrow La Scala (2002), Maisie Raine (1998) and Brothers and Sisters (1998). Soon after the end of his time on Spooks Oyelowo made a cameo appearance in the 2005 Christmas special of As Time Goes By. In 2006 he appeared in the TV film Born Equal alongside Nikki Amuka-Bird as a couple fleeing persecution in Nigeria – they also both appeared in Shoot the Messenger (2006), and in The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (2008) as a husband and wife. Other cameos have included Mayo (guest starring on 30 April 2006) and the TV film Sweet Nothing in My Ear (2008, as defense attorney Leonard Grisham), whilst he has played recurring or main characters in Five Days (2007) and The Passion (2008, as Joseph of Arimathea).

In December 2009 he played the leading role of Gilbert in the BBC TV adaptation of Andrea Levy's novel Small Island.[10] In March 2010 he played the part of Keme Tobodo in the BBC's drama series Blood and Oil. [11]


He appeared as Olaudah Equiano in Grace Unshackled – The Olaudah Equiano Story, a radio play adapting Equiano's autobiography. This was first broadcast on BBC 7 on Easter Sunday 8 April 2007, with Jessica as Mrs Equiano.[12]


In 2007, Oyelowo was the reader for John le Carré's The Mission Song. AudioFile magazine stated: "Think of David Oyelowo as a single musician playing all the instruments in a symphony. That is essentially what he manages in this inspired performance of John le Carré's suspense novel... Can it really have been only one man in the narrator's recording booth? This virtuoso performance makes that seem impossible."[13]


In 2012 Oyelowo appeared in Middle of Nowhere. Writer-director Ava DuVernay had been a fan of Oyelowo's work and had considered asking him to take the role, however before she could Oyelowo received the script coincidentally from a friend of DuVernay's who happened to be sitting next to him on the plane and was considering investing in the project.[14] The film premiered at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival to critical raves. That same year Oyelowo appeared in Lee Daniels' The Paperboy which competed for the Palme d'Or at the 2012 Cannes Film Festival.[15]

Oyelowo reunited with Daniels the following year in The Butler.

In 2014 he reunited with his Middle of Nowhere director Ava DuVernay on Selma, playing civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. The film, based on the 1965 Selma to Montgomery voting rights marches, had originally been set to be directed by Lee Daniels, but the project was dropped by Daniels so he could focus on The Butler.

Personal life[edit]

He is married to actress Jessica Oyelowo,[3] with whom he has four children. They live in Los Angeles.[16]


Year Title Role Notes
1998 Maisie Raine Sonny McDonald "Food of Love"
1998 Brothers and Sisters Lester Peters
2002–2004 Spooks Danny Hunter
2005 As Time Goes By Patrick 2 episodes
2006 The Gil Mayo Mysteries Eddie Barton, 'Sexy' M.P. "Episode #1.8"
2006 Born Equal Yemi TV Movie
2007 Five Days Matt Wellings 4 episodes
2008 A Raisin in the Sun Joseph Asagai TV Movie
2008 The Passion Joseph of Arimathea TV Miniseries (1 episode)
2008 The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Kremlin Busang "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency"
2009 Small Island Gilbert TV Movie
2010 Blood and Oil Keme Tobodo TV Movie
2011 The Good Wife Judge Edward Weldon "Two Courts"
2010–2011 Glenn Martin, DDS Teacher/Clarence 2 episodes
2014 Star Wars Rebels Agent Kallus [17][2]
Year Title Role Notes
2001 Dog Eat Dog CJ
2005 A Sound of Thunder Payne
2005 The Best Man Graham
2005 Derailed Patrol Officer
2006 As You Like It Orlando De Boys
2006 The Last King of Scotland Dr. Junju
2008 Who Do You Love? Muddy Waters
2008 A Raisin in the Sun Joseph Asagai
2009 Rage Homer
2011 Rise of the Planet of the Apes Steven Jacobs
2011 The Help Preacher Green
2011 96 Minutes Duane
2012 Red Tails Lt. Joe "Lightning" Little
2012 The Paperboy Yardley Acheman
2012 Middle of Nowhere Brian Nomination – Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Male
2012 Lincoln Ira Clark
2012 Jack Reacher Emerson
2013 The Butler Louis Gaines
2014 Interstellar Principal
2014 A Most Violent Year Lawrence Post-production
2014 Default Atlas Post-production
2014 Captive Brian Nichols Post-production
2014 Selma Martin Luther King, Jr. Post-production
Pending - Independent Spirit Award for Best Male Lead
2015 Five Nights in Maine Sherwin Pre-production


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ a b Macaskil, Grace (27 September 2014). "Star Wars Rebels actor David Oyelowo had 'no idea' what he was auditioning for". Mirror Online. Retrieved 30 September 2014. 
  3. ^ a b "David Oyelowo: An actor's life – Features – Theatre & Dance". The Independent. 18 January 2007. Retrieved 18 November 2012. 
  4. ^ http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/3667799/As-he-likes-it.html
  5. ^ My first boss, interview, Guardian
  6. ^ Gerard Gilbert, "Upwardly mobile: David Oyelowo on going from Tooting Bec to Tom Cruise's jet", The Independent, 9 February 2013. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  7. ^ "Notices", LAMDA, Spring 2011. Retrieved 7 April 2013.
  8. ^ His IMDB page.
  9. ^ In my head this is massive, interview, Guardian 2005
  10. ^ "Small Island :David Oyelowo plays Gilbert". United Kingdom: BBC. 14 October 2009. Retrieved December 2013. 
  11. ^ Andrew Anthony (4 April 2010). "Blood and Oil; Canoe Man; Ashes to Ashes". United Kingdom: The Guardian. Retrieved February 2014. 
  12. ^ BBC – Press Office – Network Radio Programme Information Week 15 Easter Sunday 15 April 2007[dead link]
  13. ^ "AudioFile audiobook review: The Mission Song By John le Carré, Read by David Oyelowo". AudioFile. Aug/ 7 Sep. Retrieved 8 September 2013.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  15. ^ "Cannes Film Festival 2012 line-up announced". Time Out. Retrieved 19 April 2012. 
  16. ^ "From Spooks to Lincoln, Complicit star David Oyelowo is about to make it big in Hollywood". Metro UK. 15 February 2013. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  17. ^ "Oyelowo for Star Wars: Rebels?". Belfast Telegraph. 24 September 2013. 

External links[edit]