– Three African Actors Nominated at the 71st Golden Globes, Will One of Them Make History? –
Awards season is upon us with the first of the season, the 71st Golden Globes, airing tonight. For the second year in a row, the awards show, which aims to celebrate the crème de la crème of the film industry, will be hosted by comedians Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. But this year there’s something a little different about the festivities; three African actors are nominated for a few awards. The beautiful Lupita Nyong’o and long time friends, Chiwetel Ejiofor and Idris Elba, are up for the three of the most coveted titles, will one of them make history tonight? ALUX will be rooting for some of our favorite actors and actresses such as “Scandal’s” Kerry Washington, but we’re also keeping our fingers crossed for the three break-out superstars. Will you be watching?
Lupita Nyong’o, 30
Background: Lupita Nyong’o was born in Mexico City, Mexico to Kenyan parents, Dorothy and Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o, a politician, while her parents were exiled there. Her father is the former Kenyan Minister for Medical Services and currently serves in the Kenyan Senate. He is also currently a professor of political science at the University of Nairobi. Lupita was raised primarily in Narobi, Kenya but eventually moved to the United States where she earned her undergraduate degree in film and theatre studies from Hampshire College, and received her graduate degree in acting from the Yale School of Drama.
She caught the acting bug at age 14 while playing Juliet in Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet” at a Kenyan theater. But that will only be the beginning to what will later be a promising career into film and television industries. While on vacation from undergraduate school, she found out British actor Ralph Fiennes was filming Fernando Meirelles’s “The Constant Gardener” in her neighbourhood. She pulled some strings with a friend and landed a position as a production runner and assistant, a move that will change her life forever. She has also worked on the production crew of other films, including Mira Nair’s “The Namesake.” In 2008, she starred in the short film “East River”, directed by Marc Grey and shot in Brooklyn, New York. Later on that year she returned to Kenya to star in the television show “Shuga,” a popular series produced by MTV about a young and hip Kenyan girl aimed at spreading HIV awareness. In 2009, she wrote, directed, and produced the documentary “In My Genes”, a film about the treatment of Kenya’s albino population. Nothing could prepare her the level of stardom she now has for her critically acclaimed performance in the “12 Years a Slave” role of Patsey.
Right now she is the new poised and graceful Hollywood “it” girl, full of tremendous promise. Her next movie, “Non-Stop,” features Liam Neeson and slated to hit theatres on February 28th. She is also rumored to appear in a film playing opposite Brad Pitt in the near future.
Nominations: Nyong’o has been nominated for the Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture award for her role in 12 Years a Slave as Patsey, a hard working over-productive slave who was repeatedly raped by her master in the film about Solomon Northup life- a free black man in 1840s America who was kidnapped in Washington D.C. and later sold into slavery in Louisiana, New Orleans. She nailed her role in portraying the pains of a woman in her position; trapped by her masters intense sexual obsession with her and loathed by his wife who in turn inflicted physical and emotional pain at every opportunity’s turn.
Chiwetel Ejiofor, 36
Background: Born in Camberwell, Greater London to Nigerian parents, Chiwetel Ejiofor’s rise to the big screen is the classic tale of triumph over tragedy. His father, Arinze, a doctor, and pharmacist mother, Obiajulu, fled to the UK from Nigeria in 1967 during the Biafran War. They settled into a comfortable lifestyle in the affluent West Norword neighborhood in south London, later enrolling young Chiwetel in the very pricey day school Dulwich College. In the summer of 1988, tragedy struck when the family travelled to Nigeria for a wedding. On the ride back home, the vehicle carrying Chiwetel and his father was shit head on by a lorry, killing Arinze instantly and leaving then 11-year-old Chiwetel in a coma for weeks.
After dealing with the grief of losing his father at such a young age and coming face to face with his own mortality, he realized that life was fleeting. He found a new leash on life taking comfort in acting. By act 14 he was starring in Shakespearian school plays; acting became an obsession which he would eventually turn into a lucrative career. At 18 a scout for the director Steven Spielberg saw him in the role of Othello, put on by the British National Youth Theatre, prompting the scout to cast him as Ens in the film Amistad. By his late 20s he had become one of Britain’s most highly regarded stage actors earning the coveted Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2008. Til date, Ejiofor has worked in the threatre, television and has starred in countless films.
The large scars on his forehead is a constant reminder of having survived a near death experience and a permanent indicator of the idom that life is short so live it to the best of your ability.
Nominations: Ejiofor has been nominated for the Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama award for his role in 12 Years a Slave as Solomon Northup, based on the autobiography of a free black man in 1840s America who was kidnapped in Washington D.C. and sold into slavery in Louisiana, New Orleans. He is also nominated for the Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie award for his role as Louis Lester in the BBC television drama Dancing on the Edge, a series about a black jazz band in London in the early 1930s.
Idris Elba, 41
Background: Idris Elba was born to a Sierra Leonean father, Winston, and Ghanaian mother, Eve, in Hackney, London and raised in one of the toughest areas in south London, Canning Town. The street he grew up on, Braemar Road, is admittedly one of the ‘most deprived areas’ in the UK according to the British council. But a tough upbringing in one of the most crime ridden sections of London was no deterrent for the budding actor. His young life was that of typical poor immigrants in Western countries, marred with hardship and hard work. Idris parents had little money when they arrived in England in the late sixties; his father took a job as a press operator with Ford motor factory and his mother a job as a typist. They worked hard to create a life for their only child, passing on that work ethic to Idris, a quality which would prove beneficial to his career.
Elba fell in love with acting as a teenager by studying Shakespeare then subsequently enrolled at Barking and Dagenham College at age 17, where he studied for a BTech in Performing Arts. He worked nights at the Ford motor company, the same place his father worked, to help pay for school. His first big break came when he was 18; he was offered a role in a National Youth Music Theatre production of Guys And Dolls, slated to last a month the Edinburgh Festival. He turned the role down at first because he could not afford to lose his job but The Prince’s Trust gave him a small grant enabling him to take role and further pursue his dreams. Though he was able to get a few small roles on British television, his career was slow to take hold. By age 30 he left London to pursue opportunities in New York City. Within months of arriving he handed the role of Stringer Bell in HBO’s “The Wire”. That speared headed a few major roles including in the US version of “The Office” and later the BBC One Television series “Luther”. To date Elba has worked in television, film and even boasts of a solid celebrity deejaying career under the name DJ Big Driis (or Big Driis the Londoner). He also has has a lesser smaller career as singer, rapper and record producer.
This London boy, by way of Sierra Leone and Ghana, has certainly made his immigrant parents proud.
Nominations: Elba is nominated for the Best Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama award for his role in Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom as Nelson Mandela, the revolutionary South African leader. He is also nominated for the Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie award for his role as Detective Chief Inspector John Luther in the British psychological crime drama television series Luther. This is Elba’s second nomination in this category, in 2012 he took home the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Miniseries or Television Film at the 69th Golden Globe Awards.