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David Oyelowo Is Working To “Normalize The Marginalized” With Production Company Yoruba Saxon And Streamer Mansa

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Near the end of the miniseries Lawmen: Bass Reeves, David Oyelowo’s titular character is told something all too familiar to many unsung real-life heroes: “No one’s gonna ever know, but you made history today.” “You can just imagine how many people from marginalized communities that is the truth for,” he says. “People who very much had a real hand in building this country, and whether it’s their history not being taught … or that their contribution to history hasn’t been valued in the same way, which is why getting this show made was an obsession.” That obsession took the form of Yoruba Saxon, a talent-led production company Oyelowo created with his wife Jessica in 2014, though his desire to produce actually came from his “accidental experience” of helping to put together Ava DuVernay’s Selma years before. “I didn’t realize those moves that go on to lead to the project being made was producing, I just knew that I had this deep desire to play [Dr.

Martin Luther King, Jr.] and I just kept chipping away to get it made.” Oyelowo’s experience on Selma shaped Yoruba Saxon in many ways, including their first governing principle: perspective. “In 2007, when I first read the script, it was a white male director, then it went to another white male, then a Black man, then another Black man, and then eventually it was directed by a Black woman,” he says. “Each time, you saw the narrative slightly shift on the basis of their own bias and perspective.” The shift was so great, that the story of Selma was initially centered on Lyndon B.

Johnson, with Dr. King as a side character. “By the time it got to Ava DuVernay over that seven-year period, not only was Dr.

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