Tag Archives: black british

David Oyelewo Undoubted Shining Star

By Leslie Byron Pitt
Written: 04.03.15

 

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In the last five years, the likes of Idris Elba (Thor), Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle), John Boyega (Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave) have called attention to the wealth of black British actors making strong waves within the Hollywood system. 2014 helped continue the trend, with films such as Interstellar, A Most Violent Year and Selma highlighting the remarkable talents of David Oyelowo.

Oyelowo was born in Oxford, 1976 to Nigerian parents who both worked within the transport sector. At age 6, Oyelowo relocated to Nigeria and during his time there; Oyelowo discovered that his family was of royal lineage. He returned to England seven years later. Quoted in his BBC bio for Spy drama Spooks, it was during his Theatre Studies A-levels at City and Islington College, in which Oyelowo was inspired by a teacher to continue his dramatic pursuits.

David Oyelowo started his stage career in 1999 with the Royal Shakespeare Company, appearing in roles for plays such as Oroonoko and Volpone. His performance as Henry VI in 2001 had him awarded with Ian Charleson Award for Best Newcomer in a Classic Play. This landmark of colour blind casting, caused controversy in some media circles. In the book The Henry VI plays (by Stuart Hampton-Reeves and Carol Chillington Rutte), Oyelowo states on remembering a Daily Telegraph article which complained such casting “opens us to ridicule”. A Mail on Sunday Piece remarks: “I’m not sure you could have a black actor playing a monarch with such a familiar face, but with Henry VI it’s fine because your average theatre goer starts with a pretty blank slate.” A hilarious remark considering the west’s history of white washing minority characters (Laurence Olivier in Othello anyone?).

It is this role of Henry, however, that not only convinced his father that David had found correct career choice, such criticisms unsurprisingly foreshadow and consolidates Oyelowo’s feelings of strong roles for black British talent. The press interviews for Selma have highlighted Oyelowo’s forthright opinions on how race in the arts is viewed. That Oyelowo made his mark with this portrayal, only highlights his considerable talents further.

David Oyelowo became more of a household name due to his stint as doomed case officer; Danny in the BBC’s praised espionage series, Spooks (2002 – 2011). Playing alongside the likes of Matthew Oyelowo_SpooksMacfadyen and Keeley Hawes, Oyelowo spent two years on the highly popular show before bowing out to pursue other projects. Oyelowo found himself in leading roles such as Matt Wellings, in the critically acclaimed drama Five Days, in which he won the 2007 award for Winner of Best Actor in a Mini Series or Motion Picture for Television, Golden Satellite Awards. In 2008 he was cast alongside British actors Colin Salmon and Idris Elba in the Anthony Minghella directed pilot of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. The Botswanan set show, while award winning and enjoyed, unfortunately, never obtained a second series.

Oyelowo also starred in the 2009 television mini-series Small Island. An adaptation of Andrea Levy’s novel, which focuses on the diaspora of Jamaican immigrants during and after World War II. Oyelowo was nominated for Best Actor at the BAFTA television awards in 2010, for his portrayal of the unlucky but noble Gilbert Joseph.

Despite finding minor cinematic roles in the likes of Derailed (2005) and The Last King of Scotland (2006), it was 2011 which marked out new and exciting territory for the young actor. Oyelowo was cast as the selfish antagonist, Steven Jacobs in the surprise blockbuster hit, Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Often recognised as more noble characters, the role of Jacobs allowed Oyelowo to not only star in one of the biggest hits of the summer, but also allowed him to expand his range in a much pulpier type of cinematic feature.

2011 also saw Oyelowo take a small role as Preacher Green, in the successful civil rights drama, The Help. In Red Tails, the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, Oywlowo was allowed to broaden his range further with the “physically demanding” role of 1st Lt. Joe “Lightning” Little. In an article for blackflix, Oyelowo was quick to not only comment on how proud he was being able to take a role that belongs in the history books due to the Airmen’s role in desegregation of the American Armed Forces. Oyelowo also noted on the shortage of opportunities of an all-black leading cast, being able to star in a movie, which didn’t feel like a niche feature, solely aimed at the African American audience. Hollywood mogul George Lucas financed and produced the film himself after gaining no support from the Hollywood studio system, but in the end the film didn’t set the international box office alight, however, Red Tails helped reinforce Oyelowo’s board range of talent to Hollywood.

It was in 2012 in which Oyelowo, first worked with Selma director Ava DuVernay, in the Independent drama, Middle of Nowhere. Gaining strong reviews and positive recognition at the Sundance Selma_Ava_OyelowoFestival, the film was a chance for DuVernay to work with an actor she had long been a fan of. Oyelowo’s role in Middle of Nowhere found itself sandwiched in-between releases of Lee Daniels’ Southern Gothic tale The Paperboy and Steven Spielberg’s historical biopic Lincoln. Oyelowo’s small yet poignant role in Lincoln, as Ira Clark perhaps has one of the most resonant moments of the film. In his most touching scene, the young Clark is reciting one of Lincoln’s most famous addresses, to help highlight his knowledge and admiration of the man. The scene itself is one of the film’s strongest moments.

His role as Louis Gaines in 2013’s The Butler gained Oyelowo even more recognition (NAAC image award for best supporting actor in a Motion picture), however, it was 2014 that has proved to be the one of the highest peaks of David Oyelowo’s career. The actor found him starring in a small but droll role as an ignorant school principle in Christopher Nolan’s Interstellar as well as a cagey and corrupt DA in the subtly engaging A Most Violent year. Of course the crowning achievement is Oyelowo’s complex and rousing portrayal of Dr Martin Luther King in Selma. Despite his Golden Globe nomination, many found his lack of nominations to be a snub.

However Oyelowo’s cool, calm demeanour when approaching his role of King in interviews, as well as his upfront and intelligent engagement about race and talent range of black British actors, show that his words alone may provide more inspiration for young black actors, than an award. For Oyelewo we believe…. the sky’s the limit.

Busy, busy, Its going to be an exciting 2014!

21.03.14

Hello Film Lovers,
I hope all is well and good,
Do we have some good film news for you!

Good to be finally communicating with you as it’s been such a busy 2014 already and wow it’s almost the end of March already – this year has just raced along and we here at Kush have just about noticed; as right now we are in film heaven and work overload.

We are currently working on the marketing for two big new films which we want to tell you all about and hopefully you will decide to go and see them yourselves and also give us your feedback once seen.

The first film is STARRED UP (18) a very, very serious new British film depicting a startling view of prison life and how it affects young people (our young people), watching this film made me suddenly become thoughtful about all the young men and women now growing up angry without adequate or in some cases no parental guidance at all and finding themselves incarcerated.

Prison life is brutal and vicious and somewhat not geared to rehabilitation, it’s a miracle that some do find their way in life after incarceration.

Did you know that at the end of June 2013 there were 6,262 prison inmates in prisons in England aged 18-20 (7%).  10% of the prison population are aged 18-25 and 21-24 yr olds made up 15% of the prison population (12,822).

Black and Black British people made up 2.8 percent of the population but 13.2% of the prison population.

STARRED UP depicts prison life plainly, thrillingly and of course shockingly but in such a real-to-life way that the deeper you go into the film you really begin to understand the young lead characters PrisonWalkangry need for violence and you even absolutely feel sorry for him at the end.  Many young children in jail are products of their environment and know no better and only know one way of how to protect themselves and their fragile vulnerability.     

 

At the beginning of this week Kush organised a press screening and invited all the hot influential young entrepreneurs running media business along with a few older media & press personnel and as far as I know everyone that has seen the film young and old has been totally gripped, startled, excited and finally praising of the film (women and men alike), it’s also quite funny in places. It’s a must see – I say!

It is one of the best British films I have seen in a very long time and the star turn performance by young Jack O’Connell (Skins) is worthy of a rising star tag!  The supporting cast of David Ajala, Ashley Chin, David Avery, Rupert Friend  & Anthony Welsh

Starred Up is In UK cinemas from today: Friday 21st Marchtry it you may like it!
I Loved it!

You can find out more info on the film on our New Releases and Film Review pages.

STARRED-UP-_quad-posterFINARelease Date: March 21st 2014 / Certificate: 18
FIND YOUR LOCAL CINEMA BY CLICKING HERE

 Make sure to check-out the Kush review for Starred Up
You can also follow ‘Starred Up’ on Twitter @starred_up

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The other film we are working on is “Half Of A Yellow Sun”, a new epic super-dooper Nigerian film starring Oscar Winner Chiwetel Ejiofor, Thandie Newton (Crash), Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls)  & young John Boyega (Attack The Block). I know many of you are familiar with the story through the award winning novel written by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who has again recently won an American literary award for her new novel Americanah, which allegedly Lupita Nyong’o is in talks with her to make into a film.

Half Of A Yellow Sun directed by Nigerian Biyi Bandele known for his theatre work may be the film that takes Nollywood to Hollywood, this is no low budget film it’s a sprawling epic piece of filmmaking that has great performances from the cast and I think this is easily one of Thandie Newton’s best career performances.

I will be letting you all know all about the upcoming premiere which we are working on where Chiwetel and others from the cast will be present.

Half Of A Yellow Sun will arrive in UK cinemas on 11 April 2014.

I am expecting the African and African-Caribbean communities to unite and come out in force to support this film and give it great box office figures upon release confirming the arrival of larger budget size black films from the continents of Europe and Africa.

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lanna (Thandie Newton) and Kainene (Anika Noni Rose) are glamorous twins from a wealthy Nigerian family. Returning to a privileged city life in newly independent 1960s Nigeria after their expensive English education, the two women make very different choices. Olanna shocks her family by going to live with her lover, the “revolutionary professor” Odenigbo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) and his devoted houseboy Ugwu (John Boyega) in the dusty university town of Nsukka; Kainene turns out to be a fiercely successful businesswoman when she takes over the family interests, and surprises herself when she falls in love with Richard (Joseph Mawle), an English writer.

Preoccupied by their romantic entanglements, and a betrayal between the sisters, the events of their life loom larger than politics. However, they become caught up in the events of the Nigerian civil war, in which the lgbo people fought an impassioned struggle to establish Biafra as an independent republic, ending in chilling violence which shocked the entire country and the world.

Based on the award-winning best seller by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, HALF OF A YELLOW SUN is the feature film debut from London based Nigerian playwright, novelist and screenwriter Biyi Bandele. Starring Oscar-nominee Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave), BAFTA-winner Thandie Newton (Crash), BAFTA-nominee Joseph Mawle (Birdsong), Anika Noni Rose (Dreamgirls) and John Boyega (Attack the Block).

HALF OF A YELLOW SUN is an epic love-story weaving together the lives of four people swept up in the turbulence of war, produced by Andrea Calderwood of Slate Films (The Last King of Scotland).

A FILM BY BIYI BANDELE | BASED ON THE BESTSELLING NOVEL BY CHIMAMANDA NGOZI ADICHIE

STARRING: THANDIE NEWTON | CHIWETEL EJIOFOR | ANIKA NONI ROSE | JOSEPH MAWLE | JOHN BOYEGA |GENEVIEVE NNAJI | ONYEKA ONWENU

Release date: 11 April 2014

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Well that’s me for another month; got lots of work to do which includes the continued development of kushfilms.com so be prepared to see some new changes happening to the site over the course of the next two-three month with new pages & sections that we hope you will like and enjoy using.

If there is anything I can do to help you in your film industry career then please let me know?

advice on best career routes, how best to promote and market your film, where to look for government funding, film exhibition etc then please feel free to send me an email: info@kushfilms.com

Best

Marlon Palmer
Director