Chiwetel Umeadi Ejiofor, CBE, born 10 July 1977, is an English actor. After enrolling at the National Youth Theatre in 1995, and gaining a scholarship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, at age 19 and three months into his course, Ejiofor was cast by Steven Spielberg to play a supporting part in the film Amistad as James Covey.
Ejiofor was born to Nigerian descendants Arinze his Father who was a doctor and his mother, Obiajulu who was a pharmacist. At the age of thirteen, he began acting at Dulwich College and then joined the National Youth Theatre. In 1988 at the age of eleven, Ejiofor was at a family wedding in Nigeria, when he and his father left the celebrations, they had a head-on collision; unfortunately his father died, but Ejiofor survived with minor cuts to his forehead.
Ejiofor's debut came for television film Deadly Voyage, 1996. He became a student at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, but had to leave after one year. This was due to him receiving a role in Steven Spielberg's Amistad 1997, playing an interpreter Ens. James Covey. The actor would star in many plays, and receive an award in 1999, The Ian Charleson Award and the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising New-comer from the Critics' Circle Theatre Awards in 2000. Continuing that year, the actor claimed the 'London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer in 2000 and a nomination for the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2001. In 2002, the star made his debut leading role in Stephen Frears British Thriller 'Dirty Pretty Things'. He was awarded the British Independent Award for Best Actor. The actor continued to impress the Film world with many small acting pieces throughout the years. In 2006, the star received two nominations, one for the Golden Globe Awards and another for a British Independent Film Award for his display of singing and dancing in Julian Jarold's 'Kinky Boots'. Appearing Don Cheadle in 2007 film 'Talk to Me', Ejiofor continued to impress in his role as Othello alongside Ewan McGregor as Iago in the same year, receiving the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor.
7 Years ago, in 2013, at the age of 36, Chiwetel Ejiofor portrayed Odenigbo in Half of a Yellow Sun, a 2013 Anglo-Nigerian drama movie directed by Biyi Bandele and based on the novel of the same name by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
The plot of the movie begins during the first Nigerian Independence Day on 1 October 1960 and concludes at the end of the Nigerian Civil War in 1970. The film is interspersed with archival stock footage of television news broadcasts of political events in Nigeria.
After completing their university education in the United Kingdom and United States, twin sisters Olanna and Kainene return to Nigeria. Their father is the Igbo Chief Ozobia, a wealthy businessman who owns assets in Port Harcourt. Spurning an offer to marry Finance Minister Festus Okotie-Eboh, Olanna decides to move in with her lover, the "revolutionary professor" Odenigbo, who teaches at the university in the Nigerian city of Nsukka. Meanwhile, Kainene takes over the family interests and pursues a career as a businesswoman, falling in love with Richard Churchill, an English writer.
At Nsukka University, Olanna finds work as a sociology lecturer and befriends Odenigbo's houseboy Ugwu. However, Olanna faces hostility from Odenigbo's mother "Mama", who distrusts the highly educated Olanna and considers her a witch. Disapproving of her son's relationship with Olanna, "Mama" plies Odenigbo with alcohol and arranges for her servant Amala to have a one-night stand with him. A devastated Olanna wants to break off the relationship but her Aunt Ifeka convinces her to return to Nsukka.
Despite having a one-night stand with Richard, Olanna and Odenigbo reconcile and agree to raise Amala's infant daughter as their own child. The child is named Chiamaka but they call her "Baby." After falling out with Kainene, Richard returns to London . While waiting at the airport, he witnesses Northern Nigerian soldiers slaughtering Igbo civilians in the build-up to the Nigerian Civil War. Meanwhile, Olanna is caught up in a race riot and barely escapes with her life. As ethnic tensions build up, Olanna and her family flee Kano and resettle in Abba in Biafra. After reconciling with "Mama", Olanna decides to remain in Nigeria and marry Odenigbo.
While Biafra declares independence, Richard returns from London to work with his lover Kainene, who has become a war profiteer importing arms to Biafra. The fighting forces Olanna and her family to evacuate to Umuahia . During the wedding reception, Olanna and her family narrowly escape a Nigerian bombing raid. As the civil war drags on, Olanna and her family relocate to a refugee camp where she reunites with her sister Kainene, who has experienced a change of heart and helps to run the refugee camp. Ugwu is later conscripted as a Biafran child soldier.
As time passes by, Olanna and Odenigbo befriend Kainene and Richard. With the refugee camp running low on supplies due to the civil war, Kainene decides to travel into Nigerian territory in order to trade with local peasants despite Odenigbo's warnings. Several days pass by and Kainene fails to return. While Olanna and Richard fail to find Kainene, they are relieved to learn that Ugwu has survived the war and welcome him back to the family. Following the defeat of Biafra, Richard continues his search for Kainene while Olanna, Odenigbo, Ugwu, and "Baby" rebuild their lives.
The post-script mentions that Kainene was never found while Richard moved back to Nsukka. Olanna and Odenigbo remained married for nearly fifty years while Ugwu became a writer. Their daughter Chiamaka (aka "Baby") becomes a medical doctor.The movie also stars Thandie Newton as Olanna, Onyeka Onwenu as Odenigbo's Mother, Genevieve Nnaji as Ms Adebayo, OC Ukeje as Aniekwena, Anika Noni Rose as Kainene, Joseph Mawle as Richard, John Boyega as Ugwu, Susan Wokoma as Amala, Hakeem Kae-Kazim as Captain DUTSE, Rob David as Redhead Charles, Babou Ceesay as Okeoma, Gloria Young as Aunty Ifeka, Wale Ojo as Chief Okonji, Tina Mba as Mrs Ozobia, Zack Orji as Chief Ozobia.
The film premiered in the Special Presentation section at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival.
In the same year Chiwetel Ejiofor starred in Half of a Yellow Sun, he also starred as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave, for which he received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations, along with the BAFTA Award for Best Actor, and two years later, in The Martian (2015), and three years later, Karl Mordo in Doctor Strange (2016) and 6 years later, Trywell Kamkwamba in The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019) and Scar in the 2019 remake of The Lion King.
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