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‘God Gave Me the Opportunity to Play Dr. King,' Says 'Selma' Actor David Oyelowo at AAFCA 2015

( [email protected] ) Feb 07, 2015 12:36 PM EST

Selma Actor David Oyelowo
David Oyelowo at the AAFCA Awards ceremony. Photo: Royalty Image

He was snubbed of an Oscar nomination, but at the African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA) ceremony, David Oyelowo had a reason to celebrate. Awarded the best actor accolade for his portrayal of civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King in the drama "Selma," Oyelowo heaped praises on the film's director Ava DuVernay and producer Oprah Winfrey.

Citing them as sources of inspiration and encouragement, he shared with guests who included celebrities Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Kathryn Bigelow, John Singleton and J.K. Simmons, the arduous journey it took to get "Selma" made.

"As an artist, you need people to come alongside you and tell you that you're good. She [Ava] didn't just tell me I was good, she told me I was great. Its what made me know that with this opportunity that God had given me to play Dr. King, I needed someone alongside me who I could trust, who gave me confidence, and who made me know there is more in me that I could see." A staunch Christian, he also thanked Oprah Winfrey who he referred to as his African American mother, having played her son in the movie "The Butler."

Oprah, David, Ava and Tessa Thompson who plays Diane Nash in movie Selma
Oprah, David, Ava and Tessa Thompson who plays Diane Nash in movie Selma. Courtesy of Royalty Image

"I am a Christian and a lot of my choices are driven by that," he told Gospel Herald on the red carpet. "I have a very clear moral compass. I pray about the roles I should or shouldn't take and as it turns out, God has very good taste. He helps me make decisions that have served me well."

At the annual award ceremony, which was held at the Taglyan Complex in Hollywood, Calif. and hosted by Entertainment Tonight reporter Nischelle Turner,  "Selma" earned the top honor receiving the accolade for best picture of 2014.

Celebrating the best in directing, screenwriting, acting and producing, AAFCA, an organization of black journalists also honored producers Stephanie Allain and Debra Martin Chase. Actress Tessa Thompson received the breakout star award for her role in the satirical drama "Dear White People" and the cast of the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," also earned an award. J.K. Simmons received the award for best supporting actor for his role as an abrasive music teacher in the movie "Whiplash." Simmons, who rocketed to fame playing a Neo-Nazi on the HBO prison drama "Oz" joked that he initially thought it was a clerical error when he heard he was being honored by AAFCA.

Now in its sixth year, the AAFCA awards honors African American contribution to American cinema and is produced by AAFCA co-founder Gil Robertson.

"AAFCA reminds us that we don't need outside validation and whether we get any other nominations or any other awards, there is an appetite for black film and an audience that wants to see it," says filmmaker and AAFCA board member Deborah Riley Draper.

Selma Actress
Actress Tessa Thompson received an AAFCA award. Photo: Royalty Image