Childhood & Early Life
Chiwetel Umeadi Ejiofor was born on July 10, 1977, in Forest Gate, London. His father, Arinze Ejiofor, was a doctor, and his mother, Obiajulu, was a pharmacist. Ejiofor has a younger sister, Zain Asher, who is currently working as a news anchor, with the ‘CNN International.’
In 1988, Ejiofor and his family traveled to their home-country, Nigeria, for attending a family function. Ejiofor, and his father, met with an accident, when their car collided with a truck. Ejiofor suffered serious injuries, and his father was killed, in the accident.
Chiwetel Ejiofor attended the ‘Dulwich College Preparatory School,’ for his early education. He was active in the school plays, and played the part of the ‘gravedigger,’ in the play, ‘Hamlet,’ by William Shakespeare. Later, he attended the ‘Dulwich College,’ and joined the ‘National Youth Theatre.’ His passion for acting brought him to the drama school, ‘London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.’ After the first year of his study, Ejiofor was selected by Steven Spielberg, for his movie, ‘Amistad.’ Ejiofor discontinued his studies, and started pursuing his acting career.
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Ejiofor started his acting career with stage performances. In 1995, Ejiofor played the title role in the play, ‘Othello,’ at the ‘Bloomsbury Theatre,’ in London. In 1996, he performed at the ‘Theatre Royal,’ in Glasgow. In 1996, he made his film debut too, with the TV movie, ‘Deadly Voyage.’
In 1997, Ejiofor was selected by Steven Spielberg, for his movie, ‘Amistad.’ This marked his entry into the ‘Hollywood.’ In the movie, Ejiofor played ‘James Covey.’ Though his character was not pivotal, Ejiofor’s performance was noticed. In 1999, he starred in the British movie, ‘G: MT- Greenwich Mean Time.’
In 2000, Ejiofor acted in the British play, ‘Blue/Orange,’ written by Joe Penhall. It premiered at the ‘Royal National Theatre,’ in London. Ejiofor won the ‘Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer,’ awarded by the ‘London Evening Standard,’ for his performance in the play. He was nominated for the ‘Laurence Olivier Award’ for the ‘Best Supporting Actor’ too. In the same year, Ejiofor performed as ‘Romeo,’ in the play, ‘Romeo and Juliet.’ He won the ‘Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer,’ for this performance.
In 2000, Chiwetel Ejiofor bagged his first movie lead role, in ‘It Was an Accident.’ Ejiofor played ‘Nicky Burkett,’ an ex-convict who tried to lead a normal life. In 2002, he performed the lead role in the social thriller movie, ‘Dirty Pretty Things.’ Ejiofor played ‘Okwe,’ an illegal Nigerian immigrant, who worked in a hotel in London. Ejiofor won the ‘British Independent Film Award’ for the ‘Best Actor,’ for his brilliant performance in the movie.
In 2003, Ejiofor played a young lawyer, ‘Ashley Carter,’ in the legal drama series, ‘Trust,’ which was aired on the ‘BBC’ network. The series was short-lived. In the same year, he starred in the lead role, ‘Augustus,’ in the radio production of the poetic drama, ‘The Darker Face of Earth.’ It premiered on the ‘BBC World Service,’ on August 23, to celebrate the ‘International day for the Remembrance of the Slave Trade and its Abolition.’
In 2004, Ejiofor played the fictional politician, ‘Alex Mpondo,’ in the movie, ‘Red Dust.’ In 2005, he played the character, ‘The Operative,’ in the science-fiction movie, ‘Serenity.’ His excellent portrayal of the complex character of the antagonist earned him applause.
In 2005, Ejiofor performed in the comedy movie, ‘Kinky Boots.’ In the movie, he played ‘Simon’ who performs on stage, as the drag queen, ‘Lola.’ Ejiofor’s acting and singing abilities came before the audience, and he received a ‘Golden Globe Award’ nomination. He was also nominated for the ‘BAFTA Orange Rising Star’ award.
Ejiofor received a ‘Golden Globe Award’ nomination for the ‘Best Actor- Miniseries or Television Film,’ in 2007, for his performance in the TV series, ‘Tsunami: The Aftermath.’ In the same year, he returned to stage, and performed as ‘Othello.’ Ejiofor received the ‘Laurence Olivier Award for the Best Actor,’ for ‘Othello.’ He also performed in the play, ‘The Seagull.’
In 2008, Ejiofor was appointed as an ‘Officer of the Order of the British Empire,’ for his contributions to art. He was elevated to the position of ‘Commander of the Order of the British Empire,’ in 2015. In 2009, he played ‘Dr. Adrian Helmsley,’ in the science-fiction movie, ‘2012.’ The movie was a huge success at the box office. In 2013, Ejiofor received a ‘Golden Globe’ nomination, for his performance in the TV series, ‘Dancing on the Edge.’
In 2013, Chiwetel Ejiofor performed in the best role of his career. He played ‘Solomon Northup,’ in the movie, ‘12 Years a Slave.’ The movie was based on the story of Solomon Northup, who was an African American from New York. Though born a free man, Northup was drugged, and sold into slavery. The movie portrays the struggles of Northup, as a slave. Chiwetel performed the character in the most convincing manner, which won him an ‘Academy Award’ nomination for the ‘Best Actor.’
In 2014, Ejiofor starred in the Nigerian movie, ‘Half of a Yellow Sun.’ In 2015, he played ‘Vincent Kapoor,’ in the science-fiction movie, ‘The Martian.’ In 2016, Ejiofor played the character, ‘Karl Mordo,’ in the movie, ‘Doctor Strange.’ In 2017, Ejiofor appeared in several movie such as ‘Mary Magdalene,’ ‘Come Sunday,’ and ‘Sherlock Gnomes.’ He is signed to act in the upcoming movie, ‘Maleficent II.’