Dancing on the Edge's Chiwetel Ejiofor
Tea Time Tidbit for the week of July 4, 2016
Ejiofor as seen in Dancing on the Edge
Next Sunday Chiwetel Ejiofor will be celebrating his 39th birthday. That’s also when you can see him as band leader, Louis Lester in Dancing on the Edge. 39 is the age Ejiofor’s father when he was tragically killed in a head-on car crash with a truck on a Nigerian highway. Ejiofor, who was 11 at the time, was a passenger in the car. He survived the accident, but was in a coma and spent 10 weeks in hospital. The actor’s forehead still bears the scars from the injuries he sustained.
At the time of the accident, Ejiofor’s mother, Obiajulu, who was pregnant, was in England. She and Ejiofor’s father, Arinze, had moved to London from Nigeria, in the 1960s, as refugees from the civil war. While living in Nigeria, Arinze, had been a musician and singer, but once they were settled in London, Arinze trained as a doctor while Obiajulu became a pharmacist. After the death of Arinze, Obiajulu was left to bring up their four children – two boys and two girls – on her own. Somehow she managed to scrape the money together to give them a private school education and all four children went on to thrive in their chosen professions – Ejiofor’s brother is in the fashion industry, one of his sisters went into medicine and his younger sister is CNN correspondent Zain Asher.
Ejiofor began acting while in school. He especially loved Shakespeare, his love of which he credits to his father who reportedly introduced him to the plays at a very young age. After leaving school, Ejiofor worked with the U.K.’s National Youth Theatre, before being accepted into LAMDA, the same drama school that his good friend Benedict Cumberbatch attended. Unlike Cumberbatch though, Ejiofor didn’t complete his training. Instead, he left after just three months when, at the age of 19, Steven Spielberg cast him in a small part in his film Amistad. While many young actors would have chosen to stay in Hollywood, Ejiofor returned to the London theatre world where his acting career thrived.
By his mid-20s, Ejiofor was back in Hollywood and since then he has continued to divide his time between the U.K. and the U.S. and between film and stage. He’s also managed to earn himself some pretty major accolades. Apart from the OBE he received from the Queen in 2008 for his service to the arts, and the CBE he received in the Queen’s birthday honors list just last year, he has also received numerous industry awards. They include the prestigious Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his performance as Othello in 2008 and a Golden Globe for his performance as the singing and dancing drag queen, Lola, in the film Kinky Boots. In 2013 Ejiofar was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award for his amazing portrayal of Solomon Northrup, in 12 Years A Slave. The same year, he received a Golden Globe nomination and a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for his performance in Dancing on the Edge, which continues Sundays evenings at 8pm on MPT.
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