For twenty years, British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor has been gracing television and movie theatre screens with an array of roles that have brought critical acclaim to his doorstep. With 74 nominations and 53 wins at numerous award ceremonies across the globe, Ejiofor has proven that he is a master of his craft.
The Talks interviews Chiwetel Ejiofor about race in Hollywood, how his age has edited him as an actor and more.
Mr. Ejiofor, how do you feel about the fact that you are the last black actor to have been nominated for an Academy Award?
I think that’s crazy! And this is going to be the case right up until early next year… It seems like a very long time since I was nominated, you know what I mean? It’s a very long period of time that has an absence of black males or anybody of color, really, being considered to have been good enough to be in that arena. I hope that’s not something that’s a fixture, you know? I hope I don’t carry that mantle very far.
You played Othello on stage when you were 18 and then you won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for the same role when you were 30. How did your age affect the way you approached the role?
t was a totally different experience. At 18, I’d never been in love, I’d never had a real connection to jealousy, really. Even the kind of race politics of Othello were not something that were particularly known to me at 18. By the time I was 30, all of those things happened to me. Your access to the role is completely different. I felt slightly embarrassed when I came back to it, really, that I’d even attempted it before.
What do your thirties teach you?
I suppose in your thirties you gain that sense of confidence that I mentioned. I wouldn’t mind being more like I was 20 years ago, though. I sometimes wish for that holistic viewpoint, that you can see everything, that you know everything. But life kind of beat that out of me. We know the mistakes we’ve made, and the mindset that the mistakes have put us in… And so we are very careful to try and negotiate our lives so as not to repeat those things.