While it is still very early in Chiwetel Ejiofor’s career to compare him to the likes of Michael Caine, Ian McKellen, Anthony Hopkins, and Patrick Stewart, the English actor has repeatedly shown that he is cut from the same cloth as the aforementioned British legends, thanks to his performances in films like 12 Years A Slave (2013) and the series Dancing on the Edge (2014). Join us as we take a look at the early life, career, and personal relationships of the Golden Globe, Academy, and Primetime Emmy Award-nominated actor.
On the 10th of July, 1977, in Forest Gate, London, England, Chiwetel Umeadi Ejiofor was born to middle-class Nigerian immigrant parents; Arinze and Obiajulu Ejiofor. His father, Arinze, was a doctor while his mother Obiajulu was a pharmacist. In 1988, during a family trip to Nigeria, Ejiofor and his father were involved in a ghastly motor accident. His father lost his life from a head-on collision with a lorry while an 11-year-old Ejiofor survived the incident but was left with numerous injuries and scars, some of which are still visible today.
Upon his return to the UK, Ejiofor attended junior school at Dulwich College Preparatory School, what is today known as Dulwich Prep London. Here, the young man found solace in performing in school plays, something he carried on with when he moved to senior school at Dulwich College. With the encouragement he received from his teachers and family, Ejiofor joined the National Youth Theatre at the age of 18. A year later, he was admitted into the oldest drama school in the UK, the prestigious London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).
During his first year at LAMDA, Chiwetel Ejiofor, who had played the title role in Othello in multiple productions of the play, most famously at the Bloomsbury Theatre, was cast by legendary filmmaker, Steven Spielberg, in the movie Amistad (1997). Because of this, the actor, who was already gaining a reputation on the stage acting scene, left LAMDA after just one year in order to pursue a film acting career.
Movies and Awards
Before featuring in Amistad (1997), Chiwetel Ejiofor made his film acting debut in Deadly Voyage (1996). He went on to appear in G:MT – Greenwich Mean Time (1999) before landing his first lead role in It Was an Accident (2000). While still carrying on with his stage acting career, receiving a Laurence Olivier Award nomination among others, Ejiofor won the Best Actor award at the British Independent Film Awards for his performance in Dirty Pretty Things (2002).
In the following years, he became one of the most sort-after actors in the business, as some of the best filmmakers in Hollywood came calling for him. He appeared in Spike Lee’s She Hate Me (2004) and Inside Man (2006), Tom Hooper’s Red Dust (2004), Woody Allen’s Melinda and Melinda (2004), John Singleton’s Four Brothers (2005), and Ridley Scott’s American Gangster (2007), among many others.
Around this same time, Chiwetel Ejiofor got his first award nomination from a major award body. In 2006, he was nominated for the Rising Star Award at the British Academy Film Awards. A year later, he received two Golden Globe Award nominations for his performances in Kinky Boots (2007) and Tsunami: The Aftermath (2007).
In 2008, Ejiofor was awarded the Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor for his reprised performance of Othello. That same year, he made his directorial debut in the self-written short film, Slapper, as the Queen of England appointed him Officer of the Order of the British Empire.
Between the late 2000s and early 2010s, he appeared in a few highly-rated and grossing films such as American Gangster (2008), 2012 (2009), Salt (2010), Half of a Yellow Sun (2013), and 12 Years A Slave (2013), where he put in an Academy and Golden Globe Award-nominated performance. In recent times, Ejiofor has appeared in The Martian (2015), Doctor Strange (2016), and Mary Magdalene (2018).
Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Net Worth
For someone who says that the reason he took up acting as a career was not because of the mouthwatering remuneration he would be receiving but because it was the best way for him to explore a deeper question about himself, Chiwetel Ejiofor sure does get paid handsomely for his efforts. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the award-winning actor has an estimated net worth of about $12 million.
Family – Wife
Chiwetel Ejiofor appears to still be a single man, but that should not get the hopes of any single lady up because the 12 Years A Slave actor is in a serious relationship with Australian model Frances Aaternir. According to reports, the British actor began dating the Aussie in mid-2015, shortly after his breakup with Canadian actress Sari Mercer. The couple made their first public appearance together in September 2015 at the premiere of the film The Martian. They have since that time been spotted together in both London and New York, attending various events side by side each other.