Looking beyond the success of his portrayal as “W’Kabi” in the 2018 blockbuster flick “Black Panther,” there are more things to admire about British actor Daniel Kaluuya, who recently won best supporting actor for the movie “Judas and the Black Messiah.” He is also nominated in the same category for the same film in the upcoming Screen Actors Guild Awards, British Academy Film Awards, and Oscar Awards.
Daniel wrote his first play when he was nine
At age nine, he wrote his first play: about two men working in McDonalds. The work was a competition winner and was even performed at London’s Hampstead Theatre. Genius!
His mom put him in an after school drama club
In a BBC interview, Roy Williams recalls how Daniel was “very loud and boisterous” as a child. To help keep him out of trouble, his mum put him down for an after school drama group – and he eventually got a place in an improvisation class.
Daniel acknowledged the part this played in his success in his BAFTA acceptance speech: “I am a product of arts funding within the United Kingdom.”
He went to work on a suit to ‘stand out’
All seems normal until you realize that the work is being a runner for a cable channel that mostly involves bringing coffee to people. What an achiever he is!
At 16, he was discouraged by his mom to pursue acting
Prior to his days in the shopping channel, he told his mom he wanted to be an actor. Stressed about that decision, she took him to Connexions; a UK governmental agency that offers support and guidance for youth. A woman at the agency told Daniel that acting wasn’t going to work out.
He wrote a full-length television drama at 18
It turns out that his writing prowess would flourish even more as he grow wiser, being one of the youngest people ever to have written an hour of primetime television drama. At 18, he began working on the UK show “Skins,” where he was a contributing writer on the first two seasons, and the head writer of the episodes “Jal” and “Thomas.” He also acted in the series by the way…
He moved to Hollywood due to lack of lead roles in England
Despite his critically acclaimed repertoire, and various roles in theatre, he decided to move to American cinema because he wasn’t getting lead roles in England, despite his theater and TV experience.
Daniel wants his performances to touch even the toughest of audiences
In an interview with the Washington Post Daniel shared that he opts for work that will resonate emotionally and that he makes “(films) for people who watch two films a year.” He added, “That’s who I make films for. Either the second or a cheeky third, because you know there’s gonna be the one that’s the staple, that’s your thing, that’s your franchise. I want to reach audiences. I want them to watch it.”
Daniel may be talented, but he knows when to get help
While filming “Judas and the Black Messiah,” Daniel couldn’t afford to damage his voice while giving an emotional performance in the film, so he trained with an opera singer in order to learn how to engage his diaphragm and prepare his vocal cords. It later paid off allowing him to get through 12-hour shoot days while constantly giving speeches.
As much as he loves acting, he shared his plans to be a full-time director
In an interview with CinemaBlend, Daniel related “Everyone’s been saying I’m a director since I was young because in order to write, I have to see it. That’s probably why it takes me so long to write…but I just haven’t got around to it. There’s just so much to do.”
He dedicates his BAFTA Rising Star Award to his mom
It all went full circle for Daniel and his mom. At the awards ceremony back in 2018, Daniel rounded off his speech saying, “Mum, you’re the reason why I started; you’re the reason why I’m here and you’re the reason why I keep going… thank you for everything.”