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Hollywood actor David Oyelowo awarded honorary doctorate by London South Bank University

Hollywood star David Oyelowo OBE presented with an Honorary Doctorate by London South Bank University (LSBU) at arts graduation ceremony 2018
15 October 2018

Hollywood star, David Oyelowo OBE, is already a multiple Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated actor and producer and this week (Monday 15 October), he was presented with another accolade, an Honorary Doctorate, on behalf of London South Bank University (LSBU).

The presentation took place during a graduation ceremony at the Royal Festival Hall for LSBU's arts and creative industry students with degrees in BA Drama and Performance, Film Practice, Journalism, Digital Design and Photography.

A renowned actor and film producer, David Oyelowo is an active supporter of greater diversity in the film industry and uses his profile to promote projects that bring black histories into the mainstream.

David 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 (2014) and to produce and star in A United Kingdom (2016), based on the true story of Sir Seretse Khama, first president of Botswana.

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 J.J. 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.

David 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.  Inspired by a conversation with Gill, David won a scholarship to LAMDA.

On receiving his Honorary Doctorate, David Oyelowo 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.”

David also spoke proudly about his Nigerian father who, he learned only last week, also studied for a BA in Business Studies at South Bank Polytechnic, back in the seventies, before the polytechnic became London South Bank University.

Gill Foster, Head of Performance Arts at LSBU, said: “It’s such a pleasure to see David’s immense talent as an actor recognized by the industry. He is a wonderful role-model for all young actors and emerging artists irrespective of their background.”

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 at Monday’s graduation ceremony.”