To have a conversation with Daniel Kaluuya is a unique experience. He watches you with intense eyes and listens seemingly without fear or judgment, only attention and empathy. Admirers of Daniel’s craftsmanship often note his smile and how he breathes life into language. But I think his performances register on such a deep level because Daniel is a watcher, a listener, an empathetic soul committed to relating to other human beings, no matter who they are or where they are from.
When director Shaka King chose to cast him as Fred Hampton, a Black Panther Party leader who was killed in Chicago by police in 1969, in the 2021 film Judas and the Black Messiah, I figured there would come a time when Daniel would have to meet Hampton’s surviving family. I knew without question that Daniel would earn their confidence to portray their loved one and leader—due not to his celebrity, but his empathy. I can’t wait to see where that empathy takes Daniel next.
Coogler is a director and an Oscar-nominated producer
- Inside the White House Program to Share America's Secrets
- Meet the 2024 Women of the Year
- East Palestine, One Year After Train Derailment
- The Closers: 18 People Working to End the Racial Wealth Gap
- Long COVID Doesn’t Always Look Like You Think It Does
- Column: The New Antisemitism
- The 13 Best New Books to Read in March
- Want Weekly Recs on What to Watch, Read, and More? Sign Up for Worth Your Time