Who Is Winston Duke? The “Us” Star Worked Odd Jobs Before Getting His Big Break In Hollywood

From having a supporting role in one of the best films in 2018 to his becoming the breakout star in Jordan Peele’s most recent thriller, Us, Winston Duke has shown the world that he is a force to be reckoned with.

Though many think the actor was just an overnight success, Duke’s path to stardom definitely did not come easy.

Winston Duke attends UK exclusive screening of “Us” at Picturehouse Central on March 14, 2019 in London, England. | (Photo by Jeff Spicer/Getty Images for Universal)

From working all types of odd jobs to finally landing a role that would change his career for the better, Winston Duke‘s story is truly inspiring.

Duke always knew he wanted to be an actor

Before landing major roles in some of the most critically acclaimed films, Winston Duke was just a Trinidad and Tobago native who was an aspiring actor with dreams of getting his big break in Hollywood.

After graduating from the University of Buffalo with a bachelors degree in Theatre, Duke moved to New Haven, Connecticut where he attended Yale School of Drama after being accepted into their graduate program.

While attending Yale, Winston Duke met a fellow actor who he would find himself working closely with a few short years later. One student had been assigned to show Duke around campus and the two became instant friends. That student’s name was Lupita Nyong’o.

Though Nyong’o was a few years ahead of Duke in the program, the two actors remained friends throughout their time at Yale and had no idea what was in store for them in the upcoming years.

While attending school, Duke worked many odd jobs just so he could make ends meet. Some of his jobs included being a gift-wrapper during the holiday season and waiting tables.

After graduating from Yale in 2013, Winston Duke began going on hundreds of auditions hoping to land an acting gig.

The actor eventually began landing roles in off-Broadway productions and even starred in an episode of SVU.


By 2016, Winston Duke was still auditioning and though he landed a few roles here and there, the actor began wondering if he would be more successful focusing his energy on a different career.

“‘What am I doing?'” he would ask himself. “If I committed this much attention and intention to anything else, I’m pretty sure I’d be successful at it.”

Duke finally received his breakout role

In 2016, Winston Duke’s agent sent him a script for an un-titled Marvel project.

Though the actor did not know what to expect, he still ended up auditioning. He soon received the news that he would be making his film debut as the warrior, M’Baku, in Marvel’s Black Panther. A film in which he starred alongside his good friend, Lupita Nyong’o in.

A film in which he starred alongside his good friend, Lupita Nyong’o in.

After the film’s release in February 2018, Winston Duke’s career as an actor finally started to take off.

The Yale alum began receiving multiple acting jobs and has returned to the big screen to reprise his role as M’Baku in Avengers: Infinity War and soon in this upcoming April’s Avengers: Endgame.

Along with the Marvel films, Duke has also has also starred in the Netflix crime drama Wonderland.

Us and his future projects

During an Oscars After-Party in 2018, Winston Duke met director and producer Jordan Peele, who had just won an Academy Award for his film Get Out.

After being congratulated by Duke and engaging in a brief conversation with the actor, Jordan Peele texted Lupita Nyong’o to ask how she felt about Duke playing the male lead in his next film.

Nyong’o texted back “Hell yeah,” and Winston Duke soon found himself playing her on-screen husband in the 2019 thriller, Us.

With the film just being released, Winston Duke is already receiving a ton of buzz for his portrayal as the fun-loving and comical relief, Gabe Wilson, whose family is being terrorized by evil doppelgangers while on vacation.

Us has already set the record for the highest opening ever for an original horror film in its opening weekend, raking in $70 million in the box office.

Now that the world has gotten to experience what Winston Duke can deliver, many are exciting to see him appear in future projects.

It has been revealed that the actor will most likely reprise his role as M’Baku in the Black Panther sequel that is currently in its early stages.

Duke has also signed up to appear in the action thriller, Heroine, as well as an upcoming biopic about MMA fighting legend Kimbo Slice where he is set to play the lead.

Winston Duke’s career is just getting started and at the rate he’s going, we can all expect to see to see him become one of Hollywood’s most sought after actors.