Nigerian-British born actor, Chiwetel Ejiofor, has won the award for ‘Best Actor’ for his role in Steve McQueens slavery drama 12 Years a Slave at the 2014 British Academy and Film Awards.
The actor beat the likes of Tom Hanks, Leonardo DiCaprio, Christian Bale, and Bruce Dern to get the coveted award.
“I’m so deeply honoured and privileged. Thank you for your work, your artistry and your passion in this project … to make it of such value, of such worth. This is yours by the way – I’m going to keep it, that’s the kind of guy I am, but it’s yours,” Ejiofor thanked director McQueen in his acceptance speech.
Ejiofor was cast in the character of Solomon Northup, a free man kidnapped and sold into slavery, in the biopic.
Ejiofor explained after the awards that he was “struck with self-doubt” initially upon receiving the script for the movie, noting that the gravity of the slave theme weighed deeply on his mind. He accepted when he considered the source material for the plot. “Actually, it was about understanding and connecting to Solomun Northrup … it was a way for me to tell the story, and the rest could be revealed.”
Ejiofor made his debut in 1995 at age 19 in Amistad, also a movie about slavery directed by iconic director, Steven Spielberg.
Ejiofor said in an interview last year: “we live in the same era as the events that these things happened in, with seismic differences, but also with numerous similarities. So we understand our societies through the history of our societies, so we can draw parallels and relevances from stories like this.”
The actor is currently filming Z for Zachariah, a post-apocalyptic drama, and will also appear in the movie adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s ‘Half of a Yellow Sun.