A Hollywood actor who has had lead roles in Selma, 12 Years a Slave and Lincoln has been awarded an honorary doctorate.
David Oyelowo was awarded the doctorate by the London South Bank University (LSBU) on Monday.
The presentation took take place during a graduation ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall for LSBU arts students with degrees in BA drama and performance, film practice, journalism, digital design and photography.
A renowned actor and film producer, Mr Oyelowo is a supporter of greater diversity in the film industry and uses his profile to promote projects which bring black histories into the mainstream.
Mr Oyelowo was the first black actor to be cast as a Shakespearean king in the RSC’s Henry VI in 2000 and has gone on to star as Martin Luther King in Selma and to produce and star in A United Kingdom, based on the true story of Sir Seretse Khama, first president of Botswana.
Mr Oyelowo most recently starred in Nash Edgerton’s Gringo alongside Joel Edgerton, Amanda Seyfried, and Charlize Theron, as a mild- mannered businessman with a stake in a pharmaceutical company that’s about to go public when he finds his life is thrown into turmoil by an incident in Mexico.
Earlier this year, he also be seen in the third film in the franchise, Cloverfield Paradox, produced by JJ Abrams, that was revered for its groundbreaking surprise release by Netflix.
This Christmas, David is also set to appear as Inspector Javert alongside fellow co-stars Dominic West and Lily Collins in the upcoming BBC TV Christmas blockbuster mini-series, Les Miserables – Andrew Davies’ six-part drama adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 19th century classic.
Mr Oyelowo has lived in California for 11 years, but was born in the UK to Nigerian parents.
The family moved back to Nigeria when he was six and he spent his formative years there before returning to London as a teenager.
At Islington Sixth Form he encountered Gill Foster, now a teacher at LSBU, who encouraged him to apply to drama school. Mr Oyelowo won a scholarship to LAMDA.
On receiving his honorary doctorate, he said “Gill Foster, who now teaches at LSBU, had a huge impact on me.
“She was my Theatre Studies teacher at an Islington sixth form college and I really valued her opinion.
“When she suggested I should go to drama school I began to consider acting as a career for the very first time.
“She helped me with my application and encouraged me to go to join the National Youth Music Theatre, which is where my ambition to become an actor solidified.”
Janet Jones, Dean of LSBU’s School for Arts and the Creative Industries, said: “It’s a great honour to be recognising David’s achievements and amazing skill with this award.
“He’s an inspiration to all young actors, but especially those who may feel their face doesn’t fit in the still-too-homogenous world of the Performing Arts.
“We know all our students will take inspiration from what he has to say.”