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01/09/2015 09:46 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

How David Oyelowo Earned His Father's Approval In One Touching Moment (VIDEO)

When Golden Globe-nominated actor David Oyelowo was growing up, he says his Nigerian father was convinced his acting dreams were just a phase. The "Selma" star says he had to "sneakily" apply to drama school knowing his parent's wouldn't approve.

"The notion of being an artist, being an actor, for a Nigerian family is bizarre," Oyelowo says in the above "Oprah Prime" interview. "This is not a proper job."

When Oyelowo earned a scholarship to the distinguished London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, his father's reaction wasn't what he was hoping for. "Ah, my son the scholar," Oyelowo says, imitating his father. "We can tell everybody back home you got a scholarship. And when you get over this acting thing you will still be a scholar."

But Oyelowo says everything changed one night when his father came to watch him perform in "Henry VI." Oyelowo was playing the King of England at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the first black actor to be cast in that role. It was a major moment not just for Oyelowo, but also for his father, who had experienced intense racism in the country in his younger years.

"[My father] had come to the U.K. when racism was incredibly overt in the '60s," Oyelowo says. "He had hot tea poured in his face. He was applying for a job and was spat at, physically spat at in the face."

After watching his son's performance, he met Oyelowo at the stage door. "And he said, 'I cannot believe this -- that in this country they would allow a black man to be the King of England, and it is my son.'"

"That was the moment beyond which he became my number one fan," Oyelowo says.

More: How being a father helped Oyelowo approach his epic role as the iconic Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

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