British-Nigerian actor, David Oyelowo has said he is keen on becoming the first black James Bond.
The filmmaker, who has quickly become one of Hollywood’s most sought-after talents, said the significance of him playing the role is not lost on him during a chat with The Times.
Famed for his role as an MI5 officer on the British drama series ‘Spooks’ and Martin Luther King Jr. in the 2014 biographical drama film ‘Selma’, Oyelowo said playing a character like James Bond would “expand horizons”.
He added that it will give a generation of black youngsters a superhero to identify with.
“The significance of someone like me playing a role like James Bond is not lost on me. It is going to be something that will expand horizons,” he said.
“One of the most beautiful things I have seen in America on Halloween is white kids running around in Black Panther costumes.”
“I did not have a superhero to identify with growing up on a council estate in Islington. It was all Superman. That these things are very important is not lost on me.”
To claim the coveted 007 tuxedo, Oyewolo would have to fend off interest from the likes of Idris Elba, Cillian Murphy and Tom Hardy.
Oyelowo was born in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England, to Nigerian parents. His father is from Oyo State, while his mother is from Edo State. He was brought up as a Baptist. He grew up in Tooting Bec, south London, until he was six, when his family moved to Lagos, Nigeria, where his father Stephen worked for the national airline and mother for a railway company. David attended a “’military-style’ boarding school.” They returned to London when Oyelowo was fourteen, settling in Islington.
While enrolled in theatre studies at City and Islington College, his teacher suggested that he become an actor. Oyelowo enrolled for a year in an acting foundation course, at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). He finished his three-year training in 1998. He also spent time with the National Youth Theatre.
He began his stage career in 1999 when he was offered a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company playing roles in Ben Jonson’s Volpone, as the title character in Oroonoko (which he also performed in the BBC radio adaptation) and Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra (1999) alongside Guy Henry, Frances de la Tour and Alan Bates.
However, he is best known for his next stage performance as King Henry VI in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2001 productions of Shakespeare’s trilogy of plays about the king as a part of its season This England: The Histories. In a major landmark for colour-blind casting, Oyelowo was the first black actor to play an English king in a major production of Shakespeare, and although this casting choice was initially criticised by some in the media, Oyelowo’s performance was critically acclaimed and later won the 2001 Ian Charleson Award for best performance by an actor under 30 in a classical play.