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‘Grief Is Something You Live With Forever’ – British-Nigerian Chiwetel Ejiofor On Losing His Father In Car Accident At 11, Says It Had a ‘Profound Effect’ On His View Of Life

Chiwetel Ejiofor has discussed losing his father Arinze in a car accident when he was 11, saying it is something that has lived with him forever.

The actor, 44, was in the vehicle with his dad when they collided with a truck while driving along a motorway in Nigeria.

Speaking to British GQ, Chiewetel said: ‘Grief is something you live with forever in different ways, when you lose a parent young, it has a profound effect on the way you view life. 

‘At an early age you realise the value of some things and the preciousness of life itself, which is something most people acquire later on. 

‘Certain fears or neuroses you definitely carry. Some are justified but you do lose a lot of ideas about knowledge.’

The film star also discussed his critically lauded performance in the 2013 film 12 Years A Slace, which saw him nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor.

Chiwetel said he believes the film’s success served as a catalyist that lead to a variety of films being greenlit that would never have been made.  

Interview: The actor, 44, was in the vehicle with his dad when they collided with a truck while driving along a motorway in Nigeria

Interview: The actor, 44, was in the vehicle with his dad when they collided with a truck while driving along a motorway in Nigeria

He said: ‘[Its] overall cultural significance was incredibly powerful and continues to resonate. There’s an argument that part of the success of 12 Years led to the decision to push forward Black Panther.’

Speaking on the progress made in the fight for racial equality, Chiwetel added: ‘It’s going to take a sustained generational effort to deprogramme these ideas of racial hierarchy, but BLM has been a very successful campaign to get the west to think in a certain way. 

‘And a lot of the west has tried to remove some of that programming. But it’s a long and arduous process because certain people cling to it in a very fervent way.’

Role: Chiwetel said he believes the success of his film 12 Years A Slave served as a catalyist that lead to a variety of films being greenlit that would never have been made (pictured in the film in 2013)

Role: Chiwetel said he believes the success of his film 12 Years A Slave served as a catalyist that lead to a variety of films being greenlit that would never have been made (pictured in the film in 2013)

The actor was also asked about his thoughts on nationalism, where he compared the nation state to a ‘football team’. 

He said: ‘These things are not things to fight over. They’re not things to kill over. They’re not things to destroy other people and their lives over. 

‘They are simply inherited labels that are ultimately completely meaningless.’ 

The May issue of British GQ is available via digital download and on newsstands on 3 May.

He said: '[Its] overall cultural significance was incredibly powerful and continues to resonate. There's an argument that part of the success of 12 Years led to the decision to push forward Black Panther' (picgtured in April 2021)

He said: ‘[Its] overall cultural significance was incredibly powerful and continues to resonate. There’s an argument that part of the success of 12 Years led to the decision to push forward Black Panther’ (picgtured in April 2021)

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