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Hollywood Spotlight: Daniel Kaluuya in the new era Black leading men

Daniel Kaluuya has been in some of the most riveting films of the past decade and has shown the world of cinema exactly what he’s capable of.

Kaluuya has played a range of powerful, yet complex characters. From characters like W'Kabi, head of border patrol of the Wakandan defenses in Black Panther, to cultural icons like Fred Hampton in Judas and The Black Messiah.

In each case, Kaluuya has worked his magic by pulling movie audiences into his world and delivering emotional performances. The young actor and writer has received a wave of nominations and awards throughout his career and he is definitely no new-comer when it comes to roles on the small and big screen.

Where did he come from?

Born to Ugandan parents in London, Daniel Kaluuya began his acting career as a teenager in improvisational theatre. He subsequently portrayed Posh Kenneth in the first two seasons of the British television series Skins; he also co-wrote some of the episodes.

Film lovers in the United States did not know much about Kaluuya early on as he was building a name for himself in Great Britain. Kaluuya played Michael "Tealeaf" Fry in the BBC dark comedy series Psychoville and followed by playing Michael "Mac" Armstrong in the BBC Three horror drama series, The Fades.

Daniel gained further acclaim for his performance as Bingham "Bing" Madsen in the Black Mirror episode "Fifteen Million Merits". Kaluuya appeared as Agent Colin Tucker in the 2011 film Johnny English Reborn and portrayed Black Death in the 2013 film Kick-Ass 2. In 2015, he had a supporting role in Denis Villeneuve's film Sicario.

Then lightning was captured in a bottle when Kaluuya starred in the Psychological horror film written and directed by Jordan Peele, Get Out back in 2017. He earned numerous accolades, including nominations for an Academy Award. In Get Out, Kaluuya plays a talented photographer who goes to visit his girlfriend's parents for a weekend getaway. The interracial relationship begins to have greater meaning when a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he never could have imagined. The role lifted Kaluuya to award-winning status for his powerful and riveting performance.

Then came Black Panther in 2018, one of the biggest films in history. Kaluuya played W'Kabi, the former head of security for Wakanda's Border Tribe as well as T'Challa's best friend.

W'Kabi led the fight against T'Challa and M'Baku, leading to him being forced by Okoye to surrender. It was yet another scene-stealing role for Kaluuya. In 2018 he also starred in the crime thriller film Widows, followed by the captivating crime drama Queen & Slim in 2019. Daniel was nominated for a NAACP Image Award.

Kaluuya’s star went from a major spark to a powerful flame when in 2020, he starred as the iconic revolutionary Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah. Playing the intense, razor sharp leader of the Black Panther chapter in Chicago put Kaluuya to the test. Hampton can be found in dozens of Youtube videos and news clips to compare his performance to, thus fans would surely be hyper-critical of anything less than inspiring. He made a powerful case with a performance that brought to life the spirit, style, discipline and intelligence that Hampton possessed. Hampton was 23 when he was murdered by the Chicago PD in his sleep on Dec 4, 1969.

His performance in the film was powerful enough to earn him the Academy Award for best supporting actor and a Golden Globe Award as well. Kaluuya portrayed Hampton in scenes where he’s delivering lyrical messages of power and wisdom in his words. He masters the quiet moments where you see the strength of his character.

Kaluuya is one of the most decorated young

actors in Hollywood. Below are just a few of his accolades.


  • Won the Rising Star award - “Get Out” - British Academy Film Awards

  • Best actor in a leading role - “Get Out” - British Academy Film Awards

  • Best Actor - motion picture or comedy - “Get Out” - Golden Globe Awards

  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role “Get Out” - Screen Actors Guild Awards



Article by TC Lesesne


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