Chiwetel Ejiofor, OBE (IPA: [/tʃuwɛtəl ɛdʒəfɔː/]; born 10 July 1974) is a Golden Globe-nominated British actor.
Ejiofor was born in London's Forest Gate to Nigerian parents who belonged to the Igbo ethnic group. His father, Arinze, was a doctor, and his mother, Obiajulu, was a pharmacist. He began acting in school plays at the age of thirteen at Dulwich College and joined the National Youth Theatre and played the title role in Othello at the Bloomsbury Theatre in September 1995, and again at the Arts Theatre in 1996 when he starred opposite Rachael Stirling, who played Desdemona.
Ejiofor made his film debut in the television movie Deadly Voyage in 1996. He went on to become a prominent stage actor in London. In Steven Spielberg's Amistad, he gave memorable support to Djimon Hounsou's Cinque as interpreter Ens. James Covey. In 1999, he appeared in the British film G:MT, in which he appeared nude as he walked towards the camera. In 2000, he starred in Blue/Orange at the Royal National Theatre (Cottesloe stage), and later at the Duchess Theatre. That same year, his performance as Romeo in William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet was nominated for the Ian Charleson Award. Ejiofor was awarded the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer at the 2000 Critics' Circle Theatre Awards. For his performance in Blue/Orange, he received the 2000 London Evening Standard Theatre Award for Outstanding Newcomer and a 2001 nomination for the Laurence Olivier Theatre Award Best Supporting Actor.
Ejiofor had his first leading film role in the 2002's Dirty Pretty Things, for which he won a British Independent Film Award for best actor. He also starred in a 2003 BBC adaptation of Chaucer's The Knight's Tale. He starred alongside Hilary Swank in 2004's Red Dust, portraying the fictional politician Alex Mpondo of post-apartheid South Africa. He played the central part of Prince Alamayou in Peter Spafford's radio play I was a stranger, broadcast on BBC Radio 4 on 17 May 2004. He also received acclaim for his performance as a complex antagonist The Operative in the 2005 movie Serenity. Ejiofor played a revolutionary in the highly acclaimed 2006 film Children of Men. His singing and acting performance in Kinky Boots received Golden Globe and British Independent Film Award nominations. He was also nominated for the 2006 BAFTA Rising Star Award, which recognises emerging British film talent. Ejiofor's performance in Tsunami: The Aftermath received a 2007 Golden Globe nomination for best actor in a miniseries or film made for TV.
In 2007, he starred opposite Don Cheadle in Talk to Me, a film based on the true story about Ralph "Petey" Greene (played by Cheadle), an African American radio personality in the '60s and '70s. He performed on stage in The Seagull at the Royal Court Theatre from 18 January to 17 March 2007.
He has roles in four films in 2007 and 2008: Toussaint, American Gangster, Tonight at Noon and Redbelt. Ejiofor is considered one of the leading candidates to play T'Challa in the proposed Black Panther movie based on the Marvel comic books character.
In 2007, he reprised his role as Othello at the Donmar Warehouse, alongside Kelly Reilly as Desdemona, and Ewan McGregor as Iago. The production received favorable reviews, with particularly strong praise for Ejiofor. "Chiwetel Ejiofor produces one of the most memorable performances of Othello in recent years". He was awarded the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance.
He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours. In the same year, he made his directorial debut in the short film, Slapper, which he also wrote, based on an idea by editor/director Yusuf Pirhasan.
He portrays White House Scientific Advisor Adrian Helmsley in 2012, a disaster film directed by Roland Emmerich, set to be released November 13, 2009.