David Oyetokunbo Oyelowo (born 1 April 1976) is an English actor, producer, director, and writer. He has played supporting roles in the films Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Middle of Nowhere (2012), Lincoln (2012), and garnered praise for portraying Louis Gaines in The Butler (2013). On television, he played MI5 officer Danny Hunter in the British series Spooks (2002–04), and as of 2014, provides the voice of Imperial Security Bureau agent Kallus on the animated series Star Wars Rebels. In 2014, Oyelowo played Martin Luther King, Jr. in the biographical drama film Selma, for which he received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Actor (Drama).
Oyelowo was born in Oxford, Oxfordshire, to Nigerian parents of Yoruba ethnicity. His mother worked for British Rail, and his father, Stephen, worked for then state-owned British Airways. He then studied theatre studies at City and Islington College, where 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...
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