Watch Chiwetel Ejiofor (’12 Years a Slave’) on his personal connection to slavery

Even though Chiwetel Ejiofor is a British actor starring in a film about American slavery in the nineteenth century, he feels a strong personal connection to “12 Years a Slave.”

“I spent some time recently in the southeast of Nigeria,” he tells Gold Derby. “My family are all of the Ibo tribe, and I was at the museum in Calabar, where hundreds of thousands of Ibos were taken from there to America, many of them to Louisiana, so we’re all in the diaspora connected to the experience, and therefore connected to this book, to this story. It takes place very specifically in America, it is an American story, but it does speak to the wider international themes of human respect and human dignity.”

Below, watch the rest of our interview with the actor who has the best odds to win the Oscar for Best Actor, according to predictions at Gold Derby. He discusses why he felt it was a “privilege” to shoot a physically grueling scene in which Solomon is nearly lynched.

To watch our other recent interviews with Oscar, Golden Globe, and SAG contenders – including Anna Faris (“Mom“) and composer Steven Price (“Gravity“) – click here.

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