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Selma star David Oyelowo's OBE marks 'beautiful full-circle' moment

Published 30/12/2015

Former Spooks star David Oyelowo started out in acting thanks to help from the Prince's Trust
Former Spooks star David Oyelowo started out in acting thanks to help from the Prince's Trust

Selma actor David Oyelowo said receiving an OBE for services to drama feels like a "full-circle moment".

The Oxford-born actor, who has received a Golden Globe nomination for his role in the acclaimed HBO drama Nightingale, recalled how at 18, the Prince's Trust gave him a grant of £325 so he could join a youth theatre production that his parents could not afford.

He said: "That production set me on the path to becoming an actor.

"To be honoured by the Queen in this way having been aided by her son's charity feels like a beautiful full-circle moment."

In a review of Nightingale, the New York Times described his performance as "nothing less than amazing."

In the race for the 2015 Academy Awards, many felt Oyelowo had been snubbed after he failed to receive a nomination for his role as Martin Luther King Jr in Selma.

Oyelowo revealed in an interview with The Independent that Hollywood star Brad Pitt had been equally unimpressed that he had not been nominated.

He told The Independent: "We'd filmed Nightingale by this point but it's an unusual piece and we were struggling to get film festival distribution.

"It had been sent to Brad Pitt's production company Plan B but, as you know, he's a very busy man so he hadn't found time to watch it.

"Then the Oscar nominations were read and Brad was so unhappy about the snub to Selma that he decided to watch Nightingale that day, and he then took it to HBO and said 'you have to believe in this film'."

The 39-year-old may be one of Hollywood's leading talents but he began in the UK, performing in theatre before landing a part in TV spy drama, Spooks.

He played MI5 officer Danny Hunter from 2002 to 2004, and took supporting roles in films such as Lincoln, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes, The Paperboy, Jack Reacher and The Butler.

In an interview with the Radio Times in August this year, he spoke passionately about diversity on UK screens.

He said: "It's time for a change, but the question is: What needs to change in order for the frustrating regression of diversity on British television to cease?"

The actor is a patron of the TriForce Creative Network, which supports and empowers people from diverse backgrounds.

Later in his Radio Times interview, he commented: "There are fantastic British film producers who are white and who feel passionate about the issue of diversity.

"But the point remains that no-one is going to be as passionate about telling your stories and your history as you are."

August also saw the announcement that he would narrate the new James Bond novel, Trigger Mortis, by Anthony Horowitz.

He followed in the footsteps of other actors who have narrated Bond novels, including Kenneth Branagh, Hugh Bonneville, Tom Hiddleston and Rosamund Pike.

He said: "Anthony Horowitz has crafted a taut thriller with a fascinating cast of characters and stunning action sequences that I am relishing bringing to life.

"It is an acting challenge as exciting to me as any I have faced on stage or screen. I get to play James Bond! It doesn't get much better than that."

The 2016 Golden Globes will see him go head-to-head with fellow Brit and Luther star Idris Elba in the best performance by an actor in a limited series or motion picture made for television category.

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