Birthdate: February 24, 1989
Birthplace: London, England, UK
The first British Black man to receive an Academy Award and the youngest Black actor to have been nominated twice for an Oscar, Daniel Kaluuya has become one of the most exciting and striking under-35 actors in movies, and a particular favorite of filmmaker Jordan Peele, for whom he starred in both Get Out (2017) and Nope (2022).
Before he was 20, Daniel Kaluuya had already earned roles in two features (Shoot the Messenger in 2006, and Cass in 2008) and five series (including multiple years on the acclaimed long-running teen series, Skins, for which Kaluuya wrote two episodes). Over the next nine years, Kaluuya played minor and supporting roles in U.K. and U.S. feature productions, most notably in the Rowan Atkinson spoof of Bond films, Johnny English Reborn (2011); Kiss-Ass 2 (2013), with Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Chloë Grace Moretz, and Jim Carrey; and Denis Villeneuve’s crime thriller, Sicario (2015), with Emily Blunt, Benicio del Toro, and Josh Brolin.
But with his role as Chris Washington in Peele’s critical and commercial smash (over $250 million worldwide), Get Out, Kaluuya’s fame exploded—a case of the ideal actor in the ideal role in a movie capturing the cultural Zeitgeist. He was nominated for his first Oscar, as Best Actor, and won the best acting prize from the National Society of Film Critics and nominations from BAFTA and the Independent Spirit Awards.
From Get Out, Daniel Kaluuya catapulted to even greater visibility with the blockbuster MCU epic Black Panther (2018), even though Kaluuya’s role was the supporting role of W’Kabi. It was the first $1 billion-plus hit in which Kaluuya was involved, with Black Panther scoring over $1.3 billion worldwide, making it the third-highest-grossing MCU film to date. In November 2022, Kaluuya resumes his W’Kabi in Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther sequel, Wakanda Forever, with Lupita Nyong’o, Danai Gurira, Martin Freeman, Letitia Wright, Winston Duke, and Angela Bassett.
Kaluuya played support in another hit, Steve McQueen’s feminist revenge thriller, Widows (2018), with Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, and Cynthia Erivo, grossing $76 million worldwide. Kaluuya won his second lead role in Melina Matsoukas’ crime drama, Queen & Slim (2019), opposite Jodie Turner-Smith, Bokeem Woodbine, Flea, Chloë Sevigny, and Indya Moore, which earned $47 million worldwide.
Daniel Kaluuya won a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as Black Panther activist Fred Hampton in Shaka King’s dynamic drama, Judas and the Black Messiah (2021), with Lakeith Stanfield, Jesse Plemons, Dominique Fishback, and Martin Sheen. It was the third film in four years, which featured or starred Kaluuya, nominated for a Best Picture Oscar, and earned $7 million worldwide, excluding numbers earned in streaming video.
Kaluuya created his own production company, 59% Productions, which funded writer-director Adamma Ebo’s dark comedy (based on her 2018 short film of the same title), Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul (2022), with Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown.
The film was set for September 2022 release through NBC’s Peacock streaming service, Universal-owned Focus Features, and Jordan Peele’s Monkeypaw Productions. The latest starring role for Daniel Kaluuya is Otis “OJ” Haywood Jr., a Hollywood horse master who has Close Encounters of the Third Kind in Peele’s western-horror-science fiction tale, Nope, with Keke Palmer, Steven Yeun, and Michael Wincott.
London-born Daniel Kaluuya’s parents are Damalie Namusoke and Stephen Kaluuya, both originally from Uganda. Kaluuya was raised by his mother Damalie and did not see his father Stephen until he was 15 years old. At 9, he wrote his first play and performed as a child actor at the Anna Scher Theatre School and WAC Arts, as well as in London improv theater.
Kaluuya attended Torriano Primary School, St. Aloysius’ College, and Camden School for Girls, where he studied drama and theater studies in the U.K. equivalent of 12th grade (for which the school accepted boys). He is single and has no children. His height is 5’ 8½”.
Theater Man: Daniel Kaluuya has continued exploring his stage roots in various London stage productions, including two at the Royal Court Theatre (Oxford Street in 2008, Roy Williams’ Sucker Punch), a revival of Arthur Wing Pinero’s Trelawney of the “Wells” (2013), and two productions at London’s Young Vic Theatre (a 2013 revival Aime Cesaire’s A Season in the Congo, Joe Penhall’s Blue/Orange (2016)).
Real-Life Figures: Kaluuya has dramatized two historical figures—former Congo President Joseph Mobutu and Black Panther leader Fred Hampton.
Oscar History: Daniel Kaluuya is the first person born in the 1980s to receive the Best Supporting Actor Academy Award and the first Black British actor to win an Oscar (for Judas and the Black Messiah).
Identity Paradox: Kaluuya has been quoted as saying, “I go to Uganda, I can’t speak the language. In India, I’m black. In the black community, I’m dark-skinned. In America, I’m British.”