THE TALENTED MR EJIOFOR
WHO|March 8, 2021
HOW ACTOR CHIWETEL EJIOFOR LOST HIS FATHER, FOUND SHAKESPEARE AND BECAME A GLOBAL STAR – AND A FORCE FOR CHANGE

When Chiwetel Ejiofor was 11, a tragedy shook his life. On a family trip from the UK to his parents’ native Nigeria for a wedding, his father, Arinze, was killed in a car accident, which Ejiofor, who was also in the car, survived. Two years later Ejiofor was introduced to Shakespeare in English class – and discovered a way to get in touch with his emotions.

“I wasn’t very expressive, but as we were going through Henry IV, suddenly I connected with it,” says the actor, 43. “I’d never found a way of communicating things that I felt, but [performing Shakespeare] set off something, and I was able to express the emotion and the reality of [the words].” That led to roles in school plays and eventually a spot at drama school. “It became clear that [acting] was something that was going to be part of my life,” he says.

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