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Actor Daniel Kaluuya, star of Judas and the Black Messiah, ranks among those favored to win at the 2021 Academy Awards. Though he’s only risen to prominence in the last few years, he cites a project from nearly 15 years ago as one of those that influenced his career choices.

Daniel Kaluuya is Oscar-nominated for ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’

Kaluuya portrayed activist Fred Hampton in the biopic Judas and the Black Messiah. The film showcases the Black Panther party chairman in Chicago in the late 1960s as he rose to prominence as a leader and revolutionary. It also depicts his death, believed to be the work of the FBI.

The film, released in theaters and on HBO Max in February 2021, received rave critic and audience reviews. Judas and the Black Messiah also earned six nominations at the Academy Awards. In addition to the coveted Best Picture, Kaluuya and co-star LaKeith Stanfield are both up for Best Supporting Actor.

He was previously nominated for the hit film ‘Get Out’

Kaluuya appeared in several minor roles before landing his big break. After gaining international attention for the Black Mirror episode “Fifteen Million Merits,” he starred in the hit film Get Out. He played Chris, the protagonist who goes to spend the weekend with his girlfriend’s family, only to discover things are not as they seem.

The massively successful 2017 movie helped launch Kaluuya’s career. He garnered praise for his performance, winning the Rising Star award at the BAFTAs. Though he was nominated at several award shows, including the Academy Awards, Kaluuya didn’t take home the Oscar for Best Actor that year.

Kaluuya got his start on the U.K. TV series ‘Skins’

Before starring in Oscar-nominated Hollywood productions, Kaluuya made a mark in his home country. His first steady gig arrived with the 2007 E4 teen drama Skins. In the show, he portrayed the recurring character Posh Kenneth, a high school student who is friends with the core group of teens.

Very popular among a young demographic in England, Skins soon made its way to audiences worldwide. Kaluuya appeared in 10 episodes throughout the first two seasons of the show. Fellow cast members include another Oscar-nominated actor, Dev Patel, and BAFTA nominee Nicholas Hoult.

He says the show inspired him in 1 notable way

Daniel Kaluuya attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, California.
Daniel Kaluuya attends the 90th Annual Academy Awards on March 4, 2018, in Hollywood, California. | Christopher Polk/Getty Images

Years later, Kaluuya looks back on Skins as an “amazing” experience. “That was like our university,” he told Deadline in March 2021. “It was amazing to be 17, acting in the show. Just having fun. There was no pressure of it being a success — and then it became a success. Then you’re just enjoying it, being young people working and making money.”

Not only did Kaluuya act in Skins, but he also received credit as a writer for multiple episodes. “It’s really amazing to have that experience,” he continued. “I feel like a lot of the stuff navigating my career, and the decisions I make are born from being in that writer’s room and listening to those writers — understanding how they think and understanding how they see story.”