David Oyelowo: "We're Making Work That Speaks to the Times"

The actor and his co-star YaYa Alafia on Lee Daniels' The Butler.

Posted: 08/15/2013 08:30 AM EDT
David Oyelowo

David Oyelowo and YaYa Alafia both got their start outside of Hollywood — Oyelowo was a classically trained Shakespearean actor turned British television star and Alafia is best known as a finalist on the first season of America's Next Top Model  — but in recent years they have become two of the most in-demand character actors in the industry.

As a young couple caught up in the civil rights movement in Lee Daniels' The Butler, Oyelowo's and Alafia's characters reflect the sea change in politics at the time. Here they talk to us about the historical journey of the film ("It shows us how far we've come, but also how far we have to go," says Oyelowo) and what it was like sharing the screen with Oprah Winfrey.

"She made it really easy," says Alafia of working with the icon. "She was just in actor mode. You just forgot she was Oprah Winfrey. She just became Gloria Gaines."

Watch our exclusive interview below to hear Oyelowo and Alafia talk more about their humble beginnings, their characters in Lee Daniels' The Butler and comparisons between the aftermath of the Emmitt Till murder in 1955, a focal point of the film, and of Trayvon Martin today.

Lee Daniels' The Butler comes out in theaters everywhere on Friday, August 16.

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(Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

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