PROFILE
Name:
Carmen Ejogo
Birth Date:
May 27, 1905
Birth Place:
London, England, UK
Nationality:
British
BIOGRAPHY
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Kidnapped

Background:

"I'm also of mixed race (Scottish and Nigerian)... There are still certain issues that, unfortunately, I'm having to deal with -- that she probably had to deal with then. For me, of course, it's not nearly as bad, because I'm not a slave -- and I don't have (an African-American) slave history... But today there are still issues. You're not quite black enough to some people and not quite white enough to others. So, from that point of view, I just knew instinctively what some of the things she would have had to deal with probably were." Carmen Ejogo (on being biracial).

British actress of biracial heritage Carmen Ejogo has entered the show biz since she was a little girl. She has appeared in the films "Absolute Beginners" (1986), "Metro" (1997), "I Want You" (1998), "The Avengers" (1998), "Love's Labour's Lost" (2000), "Perfume" (2001), "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" (2001), "Noel" (2004), and "The Brave One" (2007). She will next be seen in the upcoming films "Pride and Glory" and "This Must Be the Place."

As for her television works, Ejogo has starred in the miniseries "Cold Lazarus" (1996) and "Colour Blind" (1998), as well as in the TV movies "Tube Tales" (1999), "Sally Hemings: An American Scandal" (2000), "Boycott" (2001), "Lackawanna Blues" (2005), and "M.O.N.Y." (2008). She also co-starred as Turner, Jeremy Sisto's technologically adept coordinator and assistant, on the short-lived NBC drama series "Kidnapped" (2006-2007).

Ejogo, who was romantically linked to Max Beesley from 1993 to 1998, has been married to actor Jeffrey Wright since 2000. They have one son together.


Biracial Lineage

Childhood and Family:

In London, England, UK, Carmen Ejogo was born on January 1, 1974. Daughter to a a Nigerian entrepreneur father, Charles (now deceased), and a Scottish tour guide mother, Elizabeth, Carmen has one younger brother named Brother, Charles Jr. (born in 1975; as of early 2000 was a law student). Their parents divorced in 1976.

From 1993 to 1998, Carmen dated Max Beesley and they exchanged rings although Beesley claimed not to believe in marriage. In August 2000, she married actor Jeffrey Wright (born on December 7, 1965), whom she met in the HBO film “Boycott.” In the dramatic movie that was released in 2001, Carmen was cast as Coretta Scott King opposite Wright's Martin Luther King Jr. They have one son together, Elijah.


Sally Hemings: An American Scandal

Career:

Making her professional debut at age eight in a music video, Carmen Ejogo began acting on stage in England and at the Edinburgh Festival. She then worked as a TV host and veejay in England. After serving as a presenter on Children's TV on Saturday mornings with former Blue Peter presenter Stuart Miles, she flew to the U.S and became a co-presenter on the children's series Saturday Disney. Meanwhile, she made her film acting debut in a small part in director Julien Temple's rock musical movie adapted from the Colin MacInnes book, "Absolute Beginners" (1986), featuring David Bowie and Sade, and a breakout role for Patsy Kensit.

In 1996, Ejogo appeared in the four-part British drama "Cold Lazarus," which was scripted by Dennis Potter with the knowledge that he was dying from cancer of the pancreas. After having her US feature acting debut as Eddie Murphy's newspaper reporter girlfriend Veronica "Ronnie" Tate in Thomas Carter-directed action/comedy film "Metro" (1997; also starring Michael Wincott), she co-starred in director Michael Winterbottom's English film starring Rachel Weisz, "I Want You" (1998), and Jeremiah S. Chechik's film based on the 1960s British cult television series, "The Avengers" (1998; starring Ralph Fiennes, Uma Thurman, Sean Connery, and Patrick Macnee), in which she portrayed the ministry agent and mother's aide.

Meanwhile, on the small screen, she could be seen in the gritty period drama miniseries set in industrial Tyneside during World War I and based on Catherine Cookson's novel, "Colour Blind" (1998), and acted opposite Hans Matheson in the "Steal Away" segment of "Tube Tales" (1999), a nine-story TV movie based on the true-life experiences of London Underground passengers which was screened at the London Film Festival before airing on British Sky Broadcasting in November.

Hitting the new millennium, Ejogo co-starred in Kenneth Branagh's film adaptation of the comic play by William Shakespeare, "Love's Labour's Lost" (2000). She then supported Martin Lawrence and Danny DeVito in Sam Weisman's comedy film loosely based on the book by Donald Westlake, "What's the Worst That Could Happen?" (2001; played Lawrence's girlfriend Amber Belhaven) and was featured alongside Jeff Goldblum, Paul Sorvino, and Mariel Hemingway in Michael Rymer and Hunter Carson's film about the fashion industry in New York City, "Perfume" (2001). In 2004, she shared the screen with Paul Walker, Penélope Cruz, Susan Sarandon, and Alan Arkin in Chazz Palminteri's perplexing and mystifying Christmas movie, "Noel."

During this time, she acted in a number of TV works, most notably portraying Sally Hemings, the slave mistress of Thomas Jefferson, who served as the U.S. Ambassador to France, in the CBS biographical miniseries "Sally Hemings: An American Scandal" (2000).

On playing Sally Hemings in "Sally Hemings: An American Scandal," Ejogo commented, "From an actor's point of view, it's a dream role. I play Sally from 15 through 53 or 54. It is just an enormous time span to tackle. The development of her personality and the challenges she has to face are just tremendous as well ... The 'scandal' of Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson is certainly not a story that I was taught in school," says Ejogo. "I was not aware of it at all until this project came to my attention.. It was not a part of history that was exposed."

She added, "Understanding who Jefferson was as a man helped me determine what kind of personality Sally may have had that would have attracted him to her and allowed this relationship to occur. Also, Sally Hemings, the way I've chosen to play her, was partly defined from what I assume her life must have been like in terms of being a slave and a woman at that time. Even women of gentry lacked many rights. It was a difficult time, and obviously for slaves it was compounded. She had to have been a woman of great strength to have gone through the scandal. She probably had enemies from all quarters."

Ejogo went on to co-star as Coretta Scott King, the wife of civil rights activist Martin Luther King, Jr. (played by husband Jeffrey Wright), in the HBO original "Boycott" (2001), and portrayed Ruben Santiago Jr.'s (played by Marcus Carl Franklin) African-American mother Alean Hudson in the TV movie version of Ruben Santiago-Hudson's 2001 play, "Lackawanna Blues" (2005).

From 2006 to 2007, Ejogo played Turner, Jeremy Sisto's technologically adept coordinator and assistant, on the short-lived NBC drama series "Kidnapped." She recently co-starred in a TV series pilot called "M.O.N.Y." (2008) and was spotted as a guest in an April 2008 episode of NBC police procedural/legal drama series "Law & Order."

Moviegoers could catch Ejogo in Neil Jordan's 2007 crime-drama/psychological thriller film "The Brave One," starring Jodie Foster. She will next be seen in the upcoming films "Pride and Glory," a crime drama directed by Gavin O'Connor and starring Edward Norton and Colin Farrell, and "This Must Be the Place," a comedy helmed by Sam Mendes and starring Maggie Gyllenhaal.


Awards:
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