David Oyelowo also known as ‘David O’, is a classically trained stage actor who has quickly become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents. He graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), and received the “Scholarship for Excellence” from Nicholas Hytner in 1998.
David most notably starred as Martin Luther King Jr. in Paramount’s drama Selma (2014). 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 black people culminating in the march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama and President Lyndon Johnson’s signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Oyelowo received Golden Globe and Film Independent Spirit Award nominations and won the NAACP Image Award for Best Actor for his portrayal of Dr. King. The film also received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture.
More recently, David’s leading roles have included: Jack Radcliff in Blumhouse’s Don’t Let Go (2019) alongside Storm Reid, Javert in BBC and PBS Masterpiece’s six-part adaptation of Les Misérables (2018) where he also served as executive producer, joining Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson in Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2: The Runaway (2021), and opposite Angelina Jolie as the father and mother duo to Alice and Peter, the two beloved characters from the well-known fairy tales Alice in Wonderland and Peter Pan.
David has also been seen in Christopher Nolan’s sci-fi adventure Interstellar (2014), J.C. Chandor’s crime drama A Most Violent Year (2014), Paramount’s true-life crime thriller Captive (2015) with Kate Mara, A United Kingdom (2016) with Rosamund Pike, Disney’s Queen of Katwe (2016) opposite Lupita Nyong’o for which he earned an NAACP Image Award nomination and Simon Brand’s Default (2014), and STX and Amazon Studio’s Gringo (2018) also starring Joel Edgerton and Charlize Theron.
Additional film credits include The Butler (2013), [linknm0000229]’s Academy Award nominated drama Lincoln (2012), with Daniel Day-Lewis, Sally Field and Tommy Lee Jones, the critically acclaimed independent drama Middle of Nowhere (2012), which earned David individual NAACP Image Award and Independent Spirit Award nominations, Jack Reacher (2012) opposite Tom Cruise, Lee Daniels’ The Paperboy (2012) opposite Nicole Kidman, Matthew McConaughey and Zac Efron, the British made for television movie Complicit (2013), George Lucas’ produced WWII drama Red Tails (2012), which won “Best Motion Picture” at the 2013 NAACP Image Awards, Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011) alongside James Franco and Freida Pinto, the Academy Award nominated drama The Help (2011), 96 Minutes (2011), which premiered at the 2011 SXSW Film Festival, Kevin MacDonald’s The Last King of Scotland (2006) opposite Forest Whitaker and James McAvoy, Who Do You Love (2008), in which he played the iconic Muddy Waters, A Sound of Thunder (2005) fro Warner Brothers, Derailed (2005) for Miramax, and Shoot the Messenger (2006) for BBC2.
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, the title role in Aeschylus’ “Prometheus Bound’, which was Off-Broadway for which David received rave reviews, and most recently, appeared in New York Theatre Workshop’s Off-Broadway production of Othello with Daniel Craig and Rachel Brosnahan.
Beyond theatre, David starred in the BAFTA Award winning series Spooks (2002) playing Danny Hunter also known as “MI:5” which aired in the United States on BBC America as well. Additionally, he won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor and was also nominated for a BAFTA Award for the same role for his work on Small Island (2009). David also starred in the BBC1 original television movie Born Equal (2006) opposite Colin Firth as well as ABC’s production of A Raisin in the Sun (2008), alongside Sanaa Lathan and Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs. Another small screen role which garnered him attention was HBO’s film, Nightingale (2014), which earned him a Golden Globe nomination and two Emmy Award nominations, including one for his work as executive producer.
He will be making his directorial debut with the feature The Water Man, written by Emma Needell and produced by Shivhans Pictures. David’s production company, Yoruba Saxon, will also produce alongside Harpo Films. Not only will David O direct and produce, but star in the film as well with Rosario Dawson, Lonnie Chavis, Amiah Miller, Alfred Molina, and Maria Bello.
In 2015, in association with The Geanco Foundation, Oyelowo established the David Oyelowo Leadership Scholarship to fully fund the education and rehabilitation of girls who have been directly affected by terrorism in Nigeria. He has continued to raise support for the Leadership Scholarship over the last four years, which is now providing thirty-two girls with an education in Nigeria.
Oyelowo was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II in the 2016 New Year Honours for his services to drama.
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