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David Oyelowo – Biography And Story Of Hollywood’s Diversity Champion

David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo is a Nigerian English American actor and producer. He began his career in 1998, and has gone on to become a star in Hollywood. He got international recognition after acting Martin Luther King Jr in the film, Selma. Consequently, the on-screen and stage actor was named by BBC as Hollywood’s diversity champion.

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David Oyelowo
Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don't Have An Idea
Start Your Business in 30 Days Even If You Don’t Have An Idea

David Oyelowo Background

David Oyetokunbo Oyelowo was born on April 1, 1976 in Oxford, England to Nigerian parents. His father hails from Oyo, and his mother, Edo State. They once worked for the national airline and the railway company respectively. David spent his early years in London before moving to Lagos where he attended a military-style boarding school.

At age 14, he moved back to Islington, and enrolled into City and Islington College for Theatre studies. Later on, he enrolled for an acting foundation course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). And in 1998, he completed his three-year course and went on to train at the National Youth Theatre.

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David Oyelowo Personal Life

David Oyelowo is a prince from the Awe Kingdom in Nigeria, and a devout Christian as evident in his quotes and interviews.

He is married to Jessica Oyelowo (nee Watson) in 1998. Jessica is an English-American actress. They are blessed with four children, and the family lives in Los Angles, California. On July 20 2016, David and his wife Jessica became naturalized US citizens.

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David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo Career

David Oyelowo began with the television series Maise Raine and Brothers and Sisters (1998). Also, in 1999, the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) offered him a role in Volpone, a comedy written by Ben Jonson. About that same time, he also appeared in Oroonoko, Antony Cleopatra and others.

Subsequently, he appeared as King Henry VI, in 2001 in one of Shakespeare’s trilogy. Basically, it was a non-traditional casting where he acted as an English King. David, being the first actor to play that role for RSC, was criticized by some people in the media. Eventually, his performance was critically acclaimed, and he was awarded by Ian Charleson for the best performance by an actor under 30 in 2001.

Later on, he appeared in Spooks (2002 – 2004). In Spooks (a British Drama Series), David acted as MI5 officer Danny Hunter. Similarly, Spooks brought David to limelight and he gained recognition. Since then, he has continued to act on stage and screen.

In addition, David has featured in several television series, numerous voice acting and has featured and directed series of films. He made cameo appearances in Mayo (2006), Sweet Nothing in my ear (2008), and was the main characters in Five Days (2007), and The Passion (2008), e.t.c  

In 2014, he gained massive international recognition after he played the role of Martin Luther King in the film Selma. According to David, the role was given to him by God.


  • Dog Eat Dog, 2001
  • The Best Man, 2005
  • Derailed, 2005
  • A Sound Of Thunder, 2005
  • Born Equal, 2006
  • The Last King of Scotland, 2006
  • Shoot the Messenger, 2006
  • Rage, 2009
  • Who Do You Love? 2008
  • Big Guy, 2009
  • The Help, 2011
  • Rise of the Planet of the Apes, 2011
  • Lincoln, 2012
  • Red Tails, 2012
  • The Paperboy, 2012
  • Middle of Nowhere, 2012
  • Rise of the planet of the Aprils, 2012
  • The Butler, 2013
  • Girl Rising, 2013
  • Complicit, 2013
  • Default, 2014
  • Selma, 2014
  • A Most Violent Year, 2014
  • Captive, 2015
  • Five Nights in Main, 2015
  • Nina, 2016
  • A United Kingdome, 2016
  • Queen of Katwe, 2016
  • Gringo, 2018
  • A wrinkle in Time, 2018
  • The Cloverfield Paradox, 2018
  • Don’t Let Go, 2019
Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days
Go from idea to starting your business in 30 days

See Also: 10 business ideas to start with 100k in Nigeria that will make you millions.

Yoruba Saxon Production

David Oyelowo established his production company: Yoruba Saxon Production in 2014. The company was behind the production of films such as Nightingale, Captive, Five Nights in Maine, A United Kingdom e.t.c In 2018, Yoruba Saxon Production sealed a deal with Madison Wells Media (MWM) Studios to develop film and television projects.

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David Oyelowo Net Worth

According to En.mediamass.net, David’s net worth is estimated at $245 million. He has a portfolio of investment, properties, endorsement deals, e.t.c.

See Also: Joke Silva – Biography, business life and movies of an ace Nigerian actress.

Awards And Recognition

David Oyelowo have gained local and international recognition for his contribution in the industry. For instance, he was appointed officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2016 New Year Honours for services to drama. Also, his other awards include;

  • Scholarship for Excellence, from Nicholas Hytner, 1998
  • Best Performance by an Actor under 30 in a Classical Play, Ian Charleson Award, 2001
  • Best Actor in a Miniseries or a Motion Picture Made for Television, Satellite Award, 2007
  • Best Actor, Royal Television Society, 2010
  • Spark Award, River Run International Film Festival, 2012
  • Spotlight Award, Hollywood Film Awards, 2013
  • Image Award, Outstanding Actor in A Motion Picture, 2013
  • Breakthrough Performance, ‘The Butler’, Hamptons International Film Festival, 2013
  • Best Actor, ‘Selma’, African-American Film Critics Association, 2014
  • Best Actor in a Movie/Miniseries, Critics’ Choice Television Award, 2014
  • Best Actor, ‘Selma’ Black Reel Awards, 2015
  • Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture, NAACP Image Award, 2015
  • Selma Palm springs International Film Festival, 2015
  • Virtuoso Award, ‘Selma’ Santa Barbara International Film Festival, 2015
  • Breakthrough Award, Georgia Film Critics Association, (GAFCA), 2015
  • Best Actor in a Tv Movie or Limited Series, ‘Nightingale’, Black Reel Award of 2016
  • Anthena Leading Man, Anthena Film Industry, 2017

David Oyelowo Quotes

“If you feel like the beginning of your history is rooted in slavery, that really, I think, messes with your sense of self, self-esteem, and self-worth.”

“We can’t afford to deny our past in a bid to be empowered. But what we can do is contextualize the past.”

“You cannot perpetually stay in that place of blame. Otherwise it’s just a downward spiral.”

“I am a father; I am very aware of the things I’m putting out in the world knowing that one day my children will watch the work that I’ve done. I want to be able to stand by it.”

“Excellence is the best weapon against prejudice. …You’ve just got to keep on banging out good performance.”

“I do think opportunity breeds bravery. It’s such a competitive profession, no one owes you anything, talent in itself is not enough.”

“I will till the day I die be an advocate for the d-world: diversity.”

See Also: Olu Jacobs – Biography, net worth and movies of a prominent Nollywood actor.

David Oyelowo

Entrepreneurial Lessons From The Life Of David Oyelowo

Embrace diversity and quality.

Oyelowo is one of the actors who never forgets where he came from. And his background does not affect the quality of work he delivers as he interprets every roles perfectly.

As entrepreneurs, we should never limit our horizon. Entrepreneurs should stand for quality alone; never be comfortable with average and fall into mediocrity.

Entrepreneurship is a lonely journey, let us help you get through with our services.

To keep track of our activities, follow us on social media.  

Photo Credit: Wikipedia, The independent, sharp magazine, Time magazine and deadline.



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