David Oyelowo

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Actor, Selma and Henry VI

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David Oyelowo: Biography at a Glance

  • David Oyelowo received a Golden Globe nomination for his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 2014 film Selma.
  • He also starred in the TV series The Lion Guard
  • Film credits include A Most Violent Year, Interstellar, The Butler, Lincoln, Jack Reacher, The Paperboy and, The Help
  • Oyelowo played the title role in Henry VI, becoming the first black actor to portray an English king for the Royal Shakespeare Company.
  • Stage credits include The Suppliants, The God Botherers and Prometheus Bound
  • Appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for his services to drama


David Oyelowo, a multiple Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Emmy-nominated actor and producer, is one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents. He starred in DON’T LET GO, from Blumhouse Productions. This followed his leading role as “Javert” opposite Dominic West in the BBC and PBS Masterpiece six-part adaptation of LES MISÉRABLES for which he also served as executive producer.  Oyelowo will star opposite Angelina Jolie in the fantasy adventure COME AWAY, an imagined prequel to the classics ALICE IN WONDERLAND and PETER PAN.  Oyelowo also produced the film through his Yoruba Saxon banner. Additionally, he starred in Sony’s PETER RABBIT 2 opposite Rose Byrne and Domhnall Gleeson.

Oyelowo made his directorial debut with feature THE WATER MAN, written by Emma Needell. Yoruba Saxon will produce alongside Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Films. Not only will Oyelowo direct, but also produce and star in the film alongside Rosario Dawson, Lonnie Chavis, Amiah Miller, Alfred Molina and Maria Bello. THE WATER MAN follows the adventures of a precocious young boy Gunner (Chavis) who, in order to save his ill mother (Dawson), runs away from home with a local misfit Jo (Miller), to find the legendary figure called the Water Man who has been said to have the power to cheat death.  While extremely close to his mother, he and his father Amos (Oyelowo) are forced to learn about each other as Amos goes on the search for his son. 

Additional film credits include: A UNITED KINGDOM; QUEEN OF KATWE  opposite Lupita Nyong’o, for which he earned an NAACP Image Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture; Christopher Nolan’s INTERSTELLAR; J.C Chandor’s A MOST VIOLENT YEAR; Paramount Pictures’ CAPTIVE, which he also produced; Lee Daniels’ THE BUTLER; Steven Spielberg’s LINCOLN, with Daniel Day-Lewis; the critically acclaimed independent drama, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, which earned him NAACP Image Award and Independent Spirit Award nominations; JACK REACHER, opposite Tom Cruise; Lee Daniels’ THE PAPERBOY, opposite Nicole Kidman; the historical drama, RED TAILS, produced by George Lucas; Disney’s THE HELP, opposite Emma Stone and Viola Davis; and Kevin MacDonald’s THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND, opposite Forrest Whittaker and James MacAvoy.  

In 2014, Oyelowo gained international acclaim starring as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Ava DuVernay’s SELMA.  For his performance, Oyelowo earned a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama and an Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Male Lead and the film received an Oscar nomination for Best Motion Picture of the Year. 

On the small screen, Oyelowo starred in the HBO film, NIGHTINGALE, earning a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television and two Emmy Award nominations – one for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series or a Movie and one as an Executive Producer in the category of Outstanding Television Movie.  

His additional television credits include his work in the UK starring on the popular BAFTA Award-winning series, SPOOKS/MI:5, and Masterpiece Theatre’s SMALL ISLAND in 2009, for which he won the Royal Television Society Award and was nominated for a BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor.  He also appeared in ABC’s 2008 Golden Globe-nominated production of A RAISIN IN THE SUN, alongside Sanaa Lathan, Sean Combs and Phylicia Rashad.  Oyelowo’s vocal talents can be heard in the multiple award-winning Disney animated series, STAR WARS REBELS, in which he plays Agent Kallus as well as Disney Junior’s THE LION GUARD, in which he voices Scar.  

Also an accomplished and acclaimed stage actor, Oyelowo most recently appeared opposite Daniel Craig as the title character in the New York Theatre Workshop Off-Broadway production of OTHELLO, directed by Sam Gold, earning stellar reviews and for which he was nominated for an Outer Critic Circle Award.  Oyelowo gained national recognition for his performance as King Henry VI in the RSC's 2001 production, when he was cast as the first black actor to play an English king in a major production of Shakespeare.  The performance was critically acclaimed and Oyelowo won the 2001 Ian Charleson Award, which is presented in recognition of the best classical stage performances in Britain by actors under the age of 30, and earned an Evening Standard Theatre Award nomination. 

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. Oyelowo was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to drama. 


He was superb. The auditorium was nearly full and his interview was quite the success. I hope he enjoyed his time on the campus, I know the students did.

Dickinson College

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