Chiwetel Ejiofor

With a disarming façade and subtle intensity, British actor Chiwetel Ejiofor quietly embarked upon a film career after several successful stage performances with a noticeable supporting role as an interpreter in Steven Spielberg's historical drama, "Amistad" (1997). From there, Ejiofor was able to carve out an impressive career in a short amount of time, though most audiences would have been hard-pressed to place the name or face. But he did earn high critical praise, particularly for his low-key performance in Stephen Frears' gritty urban drama, "Dirty Pretty Things" (2002). Though he earned several small awards for the role, Ejiofor remained a relative unknown in the United States. He sought to change that with roles in the popular British romantic comedy "Love Actually" (2003), Woody Allen's tragicomedy "Melinda and Melinda" (2004), and by playing a sassy drag queen in "Kinky Boots" (2005), which earned him his first Golden Globe nomination. Ejiofor graduated to bigger studio films, supporting Denzel Washington in both "Inside Man" (2006) and "American Gangster" (2007), while delivering a fine turn as the leader of a rebel group in the dystopian thriller "Children of Men" (2006), all of which illustrated that it was only a matter of time before he became a household name.