Thursday 27 October 2016

Spooks actor David Oyelowo 'proud of Nigerian ancestors' as he receives OBE

Published 11/10/2016 | 14:46

Spooks actor David Oyelowo was honoured with an OBE
Spooks actor David Oyelowo was honoured with an OBE

British-Nigerian actor David Oyelowo said he was proud of his ancestors who helped put the "Great" in Great Britain as he was honoured by the Duke of Cambridge.

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The Spooks star said he valued being honoured with an OBE for services to acting because of the contributions Nigeria had made to the UK.

Directly after receiving the award, the 40-year-old told the Press Association: "Being of Nigerian descent and Nigeria having been a colony, my country of origin, its resources and its people have contributed to the 'Great' in Great Britain and so, for me, to be honoured by Great Britain is something I value because of the contribution in terms of my African heritage."

Liverpool's first black footballer Howard Gayle recently turned down an MBE and said the word "empire" should be removed from honours titles.

The 58-year-old, born in Toxteth, posted on Facebook that accepting it would be a "betrayal to all of the Africans who have lost their lives, or who have suffered as a result of Empire".

Oyelowo, who played Martin Luther King Jnr in the film Selma, said: "I am here accepting the award because I am proud of the acknowledgement and I am proud to be British.

"Every country has good and bad parts of its history, but the fact is that Britain is a country I am proud to be a citizen of."

Oyelowo said he asked William to thank his father, the Prince of Wales, whose charity The Prince's Trust sponsored him to attend the National Youth Music Theatre, where he got his "first real taste of what it might be to be an actor".

He said: "I owe his dad a lot, so it was quite nice to get my OBE from his son.

"He said 'I'll tell my dad that'."

Oyelowo went on to become the first black actor to play a king when he performed in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Henry VI in 2001.

He said he felt the theatre world was pretty good at "colour-blind casting".

He added: "The film industry is probably a little bit behind, but I'm here with two films at the London Film Festival that are both African stories, both directed by women, both with black protagonists, so that in my world is indicative of a shift."

The actor was accompanied by his wife, Jessica, and two sons Asher, 15, and Caleb, 11, as well as his brother and mother-in-law.

The star said he will celebrate on a plane to Los Angeles this afternoon, ready for rehearsals for Othello with Daniel Craig, which start next Monday.

Vanessa Kingori, the first black female publisher of British GQ, and the youngest person in the role, received an MBE for services to the media industry.

Prince Harry appeared on the front cover in 2012, and Kingori said she would like to "get the Duke" next after he admitted that he read the men's magazine.

Asked about suggestions that the word "empire" be removed from honours titles, the publisher said she understood the semantics might be difficult for some people but that "celebration of achievement" was more important.

She told the Press Association: "It is a very sensitive point but there's a huge amount of headway by descendants of some of those people who were killed and there's not a lot of visibility to that, and while people like David and myself are able to have a spotlight to show others that we are positive members of our society, doing great things, and we've come a hell of a long way, I think it's really, really important to celebrate that."

Kingori said she felt a "huge sense of responsibility" to set a great example for other women in the industry.

"It takes a couple of women getting through to make a difference for the others. We can do it, we can do it really well, I think we have attributes that actually mean leadership sometimes can come more naturally,

"The things that set you apart are the things that you should celebrate," she added.

She said she does a lot of mentoring with women and people with disadvantaged backgrounds to try to help the media industry diversify.

Kingori was accompanied by her partner Tim Coleman and mother, a former midwife for more than 30 years, who received an MBE in March for services to healthcare.

The Duke presented some 86 recipients with awards at the Buckingham Palace ceremony, who were proudly watched by 265 guests, including family and friends.

Press Association

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