Oyelowo was born in Oxford, England to Nigerian parents of Yoruba ethnicity. He was raised as a Baptist. He grew up in Tooting Bec until he was six, when his family moved to Lagos, Nigeria, where his father Stephen worked for the national airline and mother for a railway company. David attended a “‘military-style’ boarding school’. They returned to London when Oyelowo was fourteen, settling in Islington.

While enrolled in theatre studies at City and Islington College, his teacher suggested that he become an actor. Oyelowo enrolled for a year in an art foundation course, at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). He finished his three-year training in 1998. He also spent time with the National Youth Theatre.

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. He is however best known for his next stage 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.

In 2012, Oyelowo appeared in Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere.

and Selma (2014).

In 2014 he is on The Tonight Show, with Jimmy Fallon, explaining how to pronounce his name.

Here he is, in 2016, driving the Marquee for the Walt Disney Production of Queen of Katwe, directed by Mira Nair. A film that Oyelowo has characterized as a “love letter to his daughter“.

And here his is, Coming Soon, in A United Kingdom.

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3 thoughts on “David Oyelowo

  • November 6, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    Oyelowo’s going to be playing Othello to James Bond’s Iago!

  • November 7, 2016 at 8:17 pm

    I wonder if that black rose on his lapel is a take off of the red poppy you so often see on the lapel of predominantly British politicians – explained by Slate’s Explainer:

    an international symbol of remembrance for veterans of war. Each year, the Royal British Legion, the United Kingdom’s most prominent veterans’ welfare organization, gives red paper poppies to those who contribute to its annual Poppy Appeal in late October and November. The drive generates almost half of the legion’s operating budget each year

    If Oyelowo’s is a Black Lives Matter lapel pin, I want one. And so do all my friends.

  • November 7, 2016 at 9:49 pm

    But wait! There’s more:

    The flower was known to grow in World War I battlefields. (The chalky French and Belgian soil, one story goes, was inundated with lime from bombing rubble and sprang forth with the flowers shortly after battles ended.)

    Inspired by John McCrae’s 1915 poem “In Flanders Fields,” a New York YMCA volunteer named Moina Michael first proposed the poppy as a symbol of remembrance in 1918.

    The Royal British Legion adopted the practice in 1921, and this year (2014) manufactured 34 million of the paper flowers in its Richmond, Surrey, “Poppy Factory,” which is staffed primarily by disabled veterans.

    Across the cities of Great Britain, “Poppy People” collect donations and hand out the paper mementos, looking much like Salvation Army bell-ringers.

    On a trip to London last week, Explainer found that roughly one out of every four tube passengers sported the vibrant red flowers.


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