KAARO KARUNGI | ENTERTAINMENT – Daniel Kaluuya drew on his respect for Black Panthers leader Fred Hampton’s principles to produce an Oscar-winning portrayal of the slain 1960s civil rights leader in “Judas and the Black Messiah”.
“What a man. What a man. How blessed we are that we live in a lifetime where he existed,” Kaluuya said as he accepted his golden statuette for best supporting actor on Sunday.
The 32-year-old Briton said he aimed to become a “vessel” for Hampton’s spirit as the United States and other countries still confront the same racial issues the Panthers battled.
“Chairman Fred Hampton was a light, a beacon of a being who would illuminate all he touched with his incredible message,” Kaluuya said last month after his Academy Award nomination, the second in his career.
“I am humbled to be nominated for portraying a man whose principles I deeply respect and for guiding me to walk in his footsteps,” he added.
“I became a vessel for Chairman Fred’s spirit at a time when we need his rally cry for equality and justice more than ever.”
Kaluuya — who also won a Golden Globe, a Screen Actors Guild award and a Bafta for the role — bested stiff competition, including from co-star Lakeith Stanfield, who plays the “Judas” of the movie – FBI informant William O’Neal.
Kaluuya, seen as a rising star in Hollywood, was last in contention for an Academy Award in 2018 for his gripping lead performance in Jordan Peele’s race-based horror film “Get Out”.
Kaluuya was born in London and brought up by his mother, a Ugandan immigrant, in a public housing estate in the British capital. His father stayed in Uganda.
A live wire, he wrote his first play aged nine and his mother registered him for sessions at a local community drama school to keep him out of trouble.
After five years on the waiting list, the teenager got in.
Kaluuya acted in the edgy youth television drama “Skins” and was part of the writing team.
Finally landing theatre work, he won rave reviews in 2010 for his lead role in “Sucker Punch”, slimming down to play a boxer.
But in the same year, he was wrongly arrested on suspicion of being a drug dealer.