…One dream can change the world.
Martin Luther King’s dream was the beginning of a revolution that brought an end to white dominance, racism and segregation in the United States, and eventually, the rest of the world.
His popular, ‘I have a dream,’ speech will resonate in the annals of history long after you and I are gone, so his dream did change the world.
But this is not about MLK’s dreams, it’s about David Oyetokunbo Oyelowo’s dreams; will they have the same efficacy that his alter ego did?
In 2014, the classically trained stage actor became one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents after he starred as Martin Luther King in the historical film, ‘Selma.’
David’s dream is to utilise cinema for cultural impact, the reason for which he does not accept roles based on remuneration.
In an interview with Ryan Gilbey of theGuardian.com, David drove this message home.
“I’m in this for the long haul. I truly believe in cinema’s potential for cultural impact. I have a clear idea what I want to do – to enrich people’s lives…For me, it’s a very conscious decision to follow my heart rather than the dollar.”
Born to Nigerian parents’ of Yoruba descent, and raised in London, David had his first brush with theatre after being invited by a girl on whom he had a crush, his pastor’s daughter to be precise.
He went on to study theatre studies for A-levels at City and Islington College, and subsequently won a scholarship at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).
His three-year training was concluded in 1998, and he devoted himself fully to his art and profession.
His stage career began in 1999, and even then, he broke moulds and barriers when he became the first actor of colour to play an English King when he starred as King Henry VI in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2001 productions of Shakespeare’s trilogy of plays.
He won the 2001 Ian Charleson Award for ‘Best Performance by an Actor under 30 in a Classical Play’ for his role.
With supporting and lead roles in tons of blockbusters including The Last King of Scotland (2006), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Middle of Nowhere (2012), Lincoln (2012), The Butler (2013)- which won him a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture.
Selma (2014) -for which he received several awards and nominations; A Most Violent Year (2014) and two yet to be released movies; Captive and Hot Pursuit, David has proven his mettle again and again and refuses to be stereotyped, an issue that actors of colour have to contend with in Hollywood.
Home Box Office [HBO] will be releasing his single-character drama ‘Nightingale’, on Friday, May 29, 2015 and he has been tipped to star alongside Oscar Winning actress Lupita Nyong’o as they bring Chimamanda Adichie’s ‘Americanah’ to the silver screen.
During the screening of the film ‘Selma’ at the House on the Rock Cathedral, Lagos, Nigeria, David reiterated his unwavering faith in God and belief that God chose him to portray Martin Luther King.
In an interview with Jim Wallis of Sojourners, David restated his belief.
“I always knew that in order to play Dr. King, I had to have God flow through me because when you see Dr. King giving those speeches, you see that he is moving in his anointing.” *
Married for sixteen years to Jessica Oyelowo, the father of four gives some advice borne of experience to his colleagues:
“I think it’s vital to have something outside your acting to keep you rooted in the real world, and help you fill the vacuum. If you have nothing else, it can be unhealthy. For me being a Christian has been invaluable: it simply means acting isn’t the centre of my life.”
Remember when I said his dream is to use his talent to create impact? He may not be marching the streets like Martin Luther, but David Oyelowo’s dreams are becoming reality.
I cannot wait for him to star in a Nollywood film; wouldn’t that be something? Drop a comment and let me know!
© 2015 – 2017, Jennifer Nkem-Eneanya. All rights reserved.