Chiwetel Ejiofor Biography
Born: July 10, 1974
Date of Birth: July 10, 1974
Born in the Forest Gate section of London to Nigerian parents, Chiwetel Ejiofor began acting in school plays at the age of 13. He earned a scholarship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, then made his feature film debut in Steven Spielberg's Amistad (1997).
Ejiofor was voted Outstanding Newcomer at the London Evening Standard Awards in 2000 for his performance in Blue/Orange, a play about a mental patient who claims to be the son of an exiled African dictator; he was also awarded the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer at the 2000 London Critics Circle Theatre Awards (Drama) and nominated for a 2001 Laurence Olivier Theatre Award for Best Supporting Actor.
But it was his performance in Stephen Frears' critically acclaimed Dirty Pretty Things (2003) that brought Ejiofor's talent to the attention of many. He received Best Actor awards from the Black Reel Awards, the American Black Film Festival, the British Independent Film Awards, the San Diego Film Critics Society and the Evening Standard British Film Awards. Roles in Richard Curtis' Love Actually (2003), Spike Lee's She Hate Me (2004), Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda (2005), John Singleton's Four Brothers (2005) and Joss Whedon's Serenity (2005) followed.
Ejiofor received a British Independent Film Award nomination for his role as a Soho transvestite who helps resuscitate an ailing North Hampton shoe factory in Kinky Boots (2006). The same year, he was nominated for the 2006 BAFTA Orange Rising Star award, which recognizes exceptional talent and outstanding performances in young actors.
He has continued to accumulate awards, notably for his brilliant performance as Solomon Northrup, the lead character in the slavery drama 12 Years a Slave(2013). Among other awards, the film won the Best Picture Oscar at the 2014 Academy Awards, and Ejiofor was also a nominee in the Best Actor category. He was also nominated twice that same year for Golden Globe awards, thanks to the quality of his work in 12 Years a Slave(2013), but also for the mini-series Dancing on the Edge, in which he played the main character.
Chiwetel continued his momentum by enjoying great visibility in theaters with the screening of the acclaimed feature film The Martian(2015) alongside Matt Damon and Jessica Chastain, and the suspenseful Secret in Their Eyes(2015) as Julia Roberts and Nicole Kidman. In addition, his services were required on the set of blockbuster Doctor Strange(2016), which featured Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role.
Although his face is now familiar, the actor also does voice work in major animated films such as Sherlock Gnomes (2018), The Lion King (2019) and also stars alongside Angelina Jolie in Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019).
In 2019, after having previously directed two short films, Chiwetel made his feature directorial debut with the Netflix original film, The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, in which he also starred and wrote the screenplay, based on the book by William Kamkwamba.