British actor Daniel Kaluuya made his name in the U.K. on the hit series ‘Skins,’ before becoming a Hollywood star with his Oscar-nominated role in ‘Get Out.’
Who Is Daniel Kaluuya?
Raised in Camden, England, Daniel Kaluuya developed his acting skills through local theater programs. He became a writer and cast member of the teen comedy-drama Skins and earned acclaim for his stage theatrics in Sucker Punch, before emerging in the United States as the lead of the horror hit Get Out. Kaluuya has since cemented his big screen stardom with prominent roles in Black Panther, Widows, Queen & Slim and Judas and the Black Messiah.
Kaluuya was born on February 24, 1989, in London, England. The son of Ugandan parents Damalie Namusoke and Stephen Kaluuya, he grew up with his mother and an older sister on a council estate in Camden and attended the all-boys St. Aloysius College.
Kaluuya wrote his first play at age 9 and saw it performed locally at Hampstead Theatre, though he soon abandoned his potential in that area in favor of playing soccer. Still, his mom had registered him for a program at the Anna Scher Theatre, and after a four-year waiting period, the restless teenager found an outlet for his creative energy via improvisation classes.
Kaluuya continued his development as an actor and playwright through a youth program at Hampstead Theatre and took another step toward a career in show business by becoming an assistant at a shopping channel at age 16.
Movies and TV Shows
Kaluuya landed his first screen role in the drama Shoot the Messenger (2006), though he soon became involved in a more buzzworthy project as a writer and cast member of the teen comedy-drama Skins. A mainstay of the popular show through two seasons as the urban wanna-be Posh Kenneth, Kaluuya displayed a charismatic presence alongside fellow up-and-coming stars like Dev Patel and Nicholas Hoult.
‘Psychoville,’ ‘Doctor Who,’ ‘Black Mirror’
The visibility of Skins led to offers for films like Chatroom (2010) and regular appearances on shows like Psychoville, Harry and Paul and The Fades. Kaluuya also stood out in one-off roles in Doctor Who and Black Mirror, the latter eventually paving the way for his ascent in Hollywood.
‘Johnny English Reborn,’ ‘Kick-Ass 2,’ ‘Sicario’
Kaluuya continued making headway on the big screen with roles in the comedies Johnny English Reborn (2011) and Kick-Ass 2 (2013), before appearing in the lone season of the police comedy-drama Babylon. He then joined his first full-fledged American film production with a part in the crime thriller Sicario (2015), alongside Emily Blunt.
Academy Award Nomination for ‘Get Out’
After comedy writer Jordan Peele watched Kaluuya’s episode of Black Mirror, he tapped the largely unknown Londoner to headline his directorial debut, Get Out (2017). The racially charged horror flick became a cultural phenomenon, grossing more than $250 million on a $4.5 million budget, and made a star of its leading man, who showed the full range of his acting gifts as fish-out-of-water photographer Chris Washington. Kaluuya earned Oscar, Golden Globe and SAG nominations for his performance, and claimed a BAFTA Rising Star trophy, though the success didn’t insulate him from criticism, with Samuel L. Jackson among those who questioned the casting of a British actor for an African American character.
‘Black Panther,’ ‘Widows,’ ‘Queen & Slim’
Kaluuya followed Get Out with the role of ally-turned-antagonist W’Kabi in Black Panther (2018), helping to make the Black-led superhero feature a global hit, and another memorable supporting effort in Widows (2018), as ruthless gangster Jatemme Manning. He then returned to leading man material alongside Jodie Turner-Smith in Queen & Slim (2019), their titular duo seeking refuge from the law following a date gone wrong.
‘Judas and the Black Messiah’
Next up for the actor was the challenging role of Fred Hampton, the Black Panther Party chairman who met his death in 1969 at the hands of law enforcement, in Judas and the Black Messiah (2021). While he again faced pushback as a foreign-born actor portraying an iconic Black American, Kaluuya drew glowing reviews for his impassioned performance, eventually winning the 2021 Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role, Critics Choice award for Best Support Actor and SAG award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role. He was also won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role.
‘Sucker Punch,’ ‘Blue/Orange’
After getting his start in theater, Kaluuya earned some of his earliest acclaim by playing a boxer in a 2010 stage production of Sucker Punch, a role that required him to get in peak shape and deliver monologues while jumping rope. Critics were less impressed with his showing in 2013’s Trelawny at the Wells, but he rebounded later that year with his portrayal of military leader Joseph Mobutu in A Season in the Congo, before effectively mining his background among the colorful characters of his Camden housing project to play a psychiatric patient in 2016’s Blue/Orange.
In May 2019, Kaluuya announced the launch of his production company, 59%, and its first-look deal with Paramount Players. “Over the years, I’ve been blessed to make work that speaks to audiences I identify with whilst pushing the envelope on what’s possible,” the actor said. “59% will be the home to continue that in a producorial capacity, to bridge the gap between the next wave of storytellers and studios.”
Although he won’t publicly comment on his love life, Kaluuya is believed to be romantically involved with actress and producer Amandla Crichlow, who has accompanied the big-screen star to major Hollywood events like the 2018 Black Panther premiere and that year’s Academy Awards ceremony.