Born on July 10, 1977, in Forest Gate to Nigerian parents, Chiwetel attended Dulwich College in South-East London. By the age of 13, he was appearing in numerous school and National Youth Theatre productions, and subsequently attended the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts.
In 1996, Ejiofor caught the attention of Steven Spielberg, who cast him in the critically acclaimed Amistad (1997) alongside Morgan Freeman and Anthony Hopkins. He has since been seen on the big screen in numerous features, including Stephen Frears' Dirty Pretty Things (2002) (for he won Best Actor at the British Independent Film Awards, the Evening Standard Film Awards, and the San Diego Film Critics Society Awards), Love Actually (2003), Woody Allen's Melinda and Melinda (2004), Kinky Boots (2005), Inside Man (2006), Children of Men (2006), American Gangster (2007), and Talk to Me (2007), for which his performance won him an Independent Spirit Award for Best Supporting Actor.
Ejiofor has balanced his film and television commitments with a number of prestigious stage productions. In 2008, his performance in the title role of Michael Grandage's "Othello" at the Donmar Warehouse alongside Ewan McGregor was unanimously commended, and won him best actor at the 2008 Olivier and Evening Standard Theatre Awards. He also received nominations in the South Bank Show Awards and the What's On Stage Theatregoers' Choice Awards in 2009. His other stage parts include Roger Michell's "Blue/Orange" in 2000 which received an Olivier Award for Best Play, and the same year Tim Supple's "Romeo and Juliet" in which Ejiofor took the title role.
Following his television debut in 1996 in Deadly Voyage (1996) (TV), Ejiofor has complimented his film and theatre work on the small screen in productions including "Murder in Mind" (2001), created by the award-winning writer Anthony Horowitz, "Trust" (2003), Twelfth Night, or What You Will (2003) (TV), and "Canterbury Tales" (2003). His television appearance in 2006's hard hitting emotional drama Tsunami: The Aftermath (2006) (TV) alongside Toni Collette, Sophie Okonedo and Tim Roth earned him a nomination for a Golden Globe Award as well as an NAACP Image award.
Ejiofor also appeared in such notable films as Endgame (2009/I), Channel 4's moving drama set in South Africa, for which his performance earned him a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance by an Actor in a Miniseries; Roland Emmerich's action feature 2012 (2009/I), opposite John Cusack, Danny Glover, and Thandie Newton; and Salt (2010), opposite Angelina Jolie and Liev Schreiber. In 2013, he will star in Half of a Yellow Sun (2013) and Twelve Years a Slave (2013).
Is British, of Nigerian Igbo parentage.
Name is pronounced "chew-it-tell edge-oh-for"
He was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Theatre Award in 2001 (2000 season) for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in Blue/Orange at the Royal National Theatre, Cottesloe stage.
He was awarded the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer at the 2000 London Critics Circle Theatre Awards (Drama) for his performance in Blue/Orange performed at the Royal National Theatre: Lyttelton and, later, at the Duchess Theatre.
He was awarded the 2000 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer for his performance in Blue/Orange.
Was a member of the National Youth Theatre, in London.
Went to Dulwich College, London
Father was a doctor.
His father was killed in a car accident when Chiwetel was eleven. He survived the accident.
Sung back-up vocals for a Band called Blind in the early 90s, height of their success was playing The Rock Garden in London's Covent Garden.
One of 115 people invited to join AMPAS in 2007.
Attended LAMDA, the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.
He was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2008 Queen's Birthday Honors List for his services to drama.
I remember getting cast in Amistad and getting this very strong feeling that I had overshot myself. It was a great shock. It made me realize that this is not a profession you can predict; that you can have all these ambitions and expectations and that they can all be thrown to the wind. What was peculiar about that situation was that my aspirations were so far below what actually happened.
I like to disappear into a role. I equate the success of it with a feeling of being chemically changed.
I always thought of the play as a sequel to Romeo and Juliet. I think Shakespeare's so astute in his understanding of people being vulnerable, you know. And that love is so easy to corrupt. I think so many of Shakespeare's plays are about how fragile love is - how perfect and beautiful it is, but also how terrifying and easy to manipulate it is.
But these are the realities of the artistic idealism and the stock, the commercial/financial realism, and, so, somehow sometimes it is going to work in your favor and sometimes against, and that's all part and parcel of it. We just, in our end, just carry on trying to sort of produce the work, or the best work we can do, and hope that at their end they find a way of getting that to as many people as possible in the cinema medium.
I think I just look for what appeals to me, and maybe what appeals to me is kind of serious sometimes. I like characters and I like story and I sort of like narrative, and that is what excites me. And sometimes, I suppose, in the contemporary context a lot of that is based around dramas these days so I enjoy that and it's what I have always done. I have always been involved in drama, and somehow that is where a lot of the good stories are. And I think there can be comedic moments in drama, like in Kinky Boots, I think there are some funny beats, but the overall, I'm just saying, is that it is a complex story between a few groups of people, and even though the story is heightened and amusing, there are all sorts of beats and machinations that go on and I think that's just what intrigues me and that's what I pursue.
(November 2007) Starring in the title part in a brief run of 'Othello' at the Donmar Warehouse in London, with Ewan McGregor as Iago.
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