David Oyelowo talks awards nominations, sharing Bass Reeves’ story

David Oyelowo‘s hard work is surely paying off. His role in the Paramount+ series Lawmen: Bass Reeves earned nominations at the Golden Globes, Critics Choice and Screen Actors Guild Awards, which he believes is a win in itself. 

“You’re in this room. That is the win. Take it, run with it, you know, enjoy that,” he tells ABC Audio. “Please don’t buy into the notion that not taking home some hardware is now tantamount to a failure. I’m just much better at embracing that now.”

Oyelowo plays the titular role in Lawmen: Bass Reeves, which tells the untold story of the first Black U.S. marshal. “Considering who [Reeves] was, what he achieved, the fact that supposedly he was the inspiration for The Lone Ranger,” the actor believed it was time for the marshal’s story to be told.

“It just felt completely unjust that that story hadn’t been told in an expansive, elaborate way that means he enters the lexicon from a knowledge standpoint, from a cultural standpoint, from a historical standpoint, from an entertainment standpoint,” Oyelowo says, noting he believes race played a part in why Reeves’ story hadn’t been told.

After seeing how uninformed people were about Martin Luther King Jr., who Oyelowo played in 2014’s Selma, he’s not at all surprised that many don’t know who Bass Reeves even is.

“When I did Selma, I literally asked kids what MLK stood for and they didn’t know,” he recalls. “I asked them who he was and you would sometimes get the answer, ‘Did he help free the slaves?"” 

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