David Oyelowo Demonstrates The Soft, Smart And Stylish Way To Take On Winter

This season, designers opt for a luxurious take on off-duty casuals. On a layover in New York, outspoken British screen star David Oyelowo shows us how to do the cold snap right

When people meet David Oyelowo, they are often surprised at how slim he is; Oyelowo's most high-profile big screen role to date was as Dr Martin Luther King Jr in Selma (2014). "Certainly in the States, I constantly get, 'wow, you dropped some weight' as if I look like Dr King all the time," says the actor. The compliment is twofold: acknowledging the 40-year-old's current gym-fit form and reflecting the impact he made as Dr King. Despite that towering performance, he was controversially snubbed at the 2015 Oscars (director Ava DuVernay didn't get a nod either).

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"That film really taught me something about perspective," Oyelowo says. "The perspective that Ava had [meant] I saw the female characters become more three-dimensional. I saw Dr King become not just a political figure but an emotional human being. Having a character that went through Ava DuVernay's female, African-American and incredibly talented perspective [meant] a much richer character and a much better film."

Navy suede jacket, £1,305; navy wool turtleneck sweater, £260, both by Ralph Lauren

Oyelowo has consciously decided to work with female directors on his last four releases. A United Kingdom, a mid-20th century biographical romance intertwined with a nasty episode at the tail end of British imperialism, is the most likely to be up for awards. In it, Oyelowo plays a prince of the British protectorate Bechuanaland (now Botswana) who, while studying in London, marries a white British woman (Rosamund Pike).

Aptly, Oyelowo has royal lineage. His grandfather was the king of a western part of Nigeria but as a boy, Oyelowo experienced little in the way of stately trappings. He was sent to boarding school before the family returned to London when he was a teenager. Back in the UK, Oyelowo caught the acting bug when he fell for a girl who was in a drama group.

Navy herringbone wool coat, £625; blue denim shirt, £100; blue denim jeans, £125; brown leather belt, £45, all by J Crew.

After starting in theatre, Oyelowo became the first black actor to play an English king in a Royal Shakespeare Company production when starring in Henry VI. "I've never felt subservient or in any way lesser than anyone around me," he says. "Despite having a fairly working- to middle-class upbringing, the notion of being royalty psychologically definitely does something to you that you go into your life in a more self-possessed state.

Such confidence serves Oyelowo well. Graduating from drama school, he told his agent to send him all the roles offered to white male actors (as Denzel Washington had done). He broke through on TV in the BBC spy drama Spooks but moved to LA when he felt he'd hit the glass ceiling for black actors here.

Navy leather/shearling motorcycle jacket, £1,750; navy camouflage cotton sweatshirt, £195, both by Coach. Navy pinstripe cashmere trousers, £580, by Brunello Cucinelli

This year, he's starred in Queen of Katwe, a Disney film with a black heroine, the true tale of a Ugandan girl who becomes a chess master. He's produced and starred in a Nina Simone biopic and has a Sugar Ray Robinson film in development.

"I have very real ambitions of playing a boxer," says Oyelowo. "Whether I get to play him [Sugar Ray Robinson] — or I should say, whether I choose to play him or end up just producing that one — that's something that remains to be seen," he says, a man accruing considerable clout.

Grey suede hooded vest, £3,080; blue checked wool suit, £5,120; white cotton T-shirt, £180, all by Brunello Cucinelli. 42 mm 18k amber hue gold Parlay watch on black crocodile leather strap, £19,250, by Chris Aire

A United Kingdom is out now