Oprah Winfrey is joining her Selma and The Butler co-star David Oyelowo to make an equally meaningful impact in the world off-screen as they did onscreen.
Winfrey will donate $100,0000 in Oyelowo's honor to the GEANCO Foundation which specializes in providing vital healthcare and education needs to girls in Nigeria. Oyelowo and Oscar-nominated Chiwetel Ejiofor (12 Years a Slave), are both involved with the foundation and coincidentally both British actors of Nigerian descent who have been friends since they were teenagers.
Oyelowo told THR his concern in helping improve the sexism, health and education standards in Nigeria has partly been fueled from watching the lives touched by Oprah, an influential woman whom he now calls a mother figure. While filming Disney's upcoming Queen of Katwe with Lupita Nyong'o this year, Oyelowo visited the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa and has frequently discussed with her the importance of taking a hands-on approach in supporting marginalized women.
"I can't afford to have been around her as much as I have and not take her example because it's just an incredible example of what is possible when you look beyond yourself," said Oyelowo of Winfrey.
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Oprah Winfrey donates $100,000 to Nigerian foundation for girls (Exclusive)
Oprah Winfrey speaks during the unveiling ceremony of the Maya Angelou Forever Stamp at the Warner Theater in Washington, DC, on April 7, 2015. AFP PHOTO/NICHOLAS KAMM (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Oprah Winfrey attends the 87th Annual Academy Awards at Dolby Theatre on February 22, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - FEBRUARY 21: Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during the 2015 Film Independent Spirit Awards at Santa Monica Beach on February 21, 2015 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - FEBRUARY 06: (L-R) Actress Carmen Ejogo, actress/producer Oprah Winfrey and director/producer Ava DuVernay accept the award for Outstanding Motion Picture for 'Selma', onstage during the 46th NAACP Image Awards presented by TV One at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 6, 2015 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)
Actress/producer Oprah Winfrey arrives for the Oscars Nominees' Luncheon hosted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, February 2, 2015 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. The 87th Oscars will take place in Hollywood, California February 22, 2015. AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK (Photo credit should read ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
SELMA, AL - JANUARY 18: 'Selma' director Ava DuVernay, actor David Oyelowo, and producer/actress Oprah Winfrey participate in the ceremony to commemorate the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on January 18, 2015 in Selma, Alabama. (Photo by David A. Smith/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 15: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Actors David Oyelowo (L) and Oprah Winfrey attend the 20th annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at the Hollywood Palladium on January 15, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images for A&E Network)
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - JANUARY 09: (EDITORS NOTE: IMAGE WAS SHOT IN BLACK AND WHITE) Actors Miles Teller (L) and Oprah Winfrey attend the 15th Annual AFI Awards at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on January 9, 2015 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for AFI)
SANTA BARBARA, CA - DECEMBER 06: Oprah Winfrey attends the 'Selma' and the Legends Who Paved the Way gala at Bacara Resort on December 6, 2014 in Goleta, California. (Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 27: Oprah Winfrey attends the Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend - Day 2 at Prudential Center on September 27, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - SEPTEMBER 26: Oprah Winfrey speaks at the Oprah's The Life You Want Weekend - Day 1 at Prudential Center on September 26, 2014 in Newark, New Jersey. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images)
PASADENA, CA - FEBRUARY 22: Oprah Winfrey speaks onstage during the 45th NAACP Image Awards presented by TV One at Pasadena Civic Auditorium on February 22, 2014 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Presentater Oprah Winfrey poses in the winners room at the EE British Academy Film Awards 2014 at The Royal Opera House on February 16, 2014 in London, England. (Photo by Anthony Harvey/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 18: Actress-TV personality Oprah Winfrey in the audience during the 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on January 18, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
SANTA MONICA, CA - JANUARY 16: Actress Oprah Winfrey attends the 19th Annual Critics' Choice Movie Awards at Barker Hangar on January 16, 2014 in Santa Monica, California. (Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 20: Oprah Winfrey attends a dinner in honor of the Medal of Freedom awardees at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History on November 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the nation's highest civilian honor, presented to individuals who have made meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama chats with broadcast journalist Oprah Winfrey before presenting her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House on November 20, 2013 in Washington, DC. The Medal of Freedom is the country's foremost civilian honor. AFP PHOTO/Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Oprah Winfrey waves as she speaks during the Let Freedom Ring Commemoration and Call to Action to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC on August 28, 2013. Thousands gathered on the mall on the anniversary of the march and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s famous 'I Have a Dream' speech. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - AUGUST 12: Oprah Winfrey attends LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER Los Angeles premiere, hosted by TWC, Budweiser and FIJI Water, Purity Vodka and Stack Wines, held at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on August 12, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for TWC)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 05: Oprah Winfrey attends the press conference for The Weinstein Company's LEE DANIELS' THE BUTLER at Waldorf Astoria Hotel on August 5, 2013 in New York City. (Photo by Ben Gabbe/Getty Images for Lee Daniel's THE BUTLER)
CAMBRIDGE, MA - MAY 30: Oprah Winfrey receives an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree at 2013 Harvard University 362nd Commencement EXercises at Harvard University on May 30, 2013 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)
COLLEGE PARK, GA - MAY 20: Oprah Winfrey attends the Spelman College Commencement at Georgia International Convention Center on May 20, 2012 in College Park, Georgia. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 09: Oprah Winfrey attends at the 3rd annual Diane Von Furstenberg awards at the United Nations on March 9, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
US television talkshow Queen Oprah Winfrey gestures during an interview at Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) in Jaipur on January 22, 2012. Television chatshow queen Oprah Winfrey received a rock star's welcome when she spoke on Sunday to a heaving audience of thousands of fans at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India. Winfrey, wearing a gold and red Indian outfit, told the packed crowd that her love of books had helped her education and enabled her to rise from a poor childhood in Mississippi to become one of the world's most influential women. AFP PHOTO / Prakash SINGH (Photo credit should read PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)
MEYERTON, HENLEY ON KLIP - JANUARY 14: Oprah Winfrey poses with the Graduates at the inaugural graduation of the class of 2011 at Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls on January 14, 2012 in Henley on Klip, South Africa. (Photo by Michelly Rall/Getty Images)
US talk show queen Oprah Winfrey looks on as she answers to journalist's questions at her South African girls' academy on January 13, 2012 in Henley on Klip. Winfrey founded the $40-million school for girls in 2007. AFP PHOTO/ STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN (Photo credit should read STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Oprah Winfrey winner for Favorite Talk Show Host during The 30th Annual People's Choice Awards - Press Room at Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, California, United States. (Photo by Jeffrey Mayer/WireImage)
NASHVILLE, TN - MAY 2: Oprah Winfrey arrives at the opening of Charlie's War at the Nashville Film Festival at the Green Hills Regal Cinema May 2, 2003 in Nashville, Tennessee. Her father Vernon Winfrey has a role in the film. (Photo by Adriane Jaeckle/ Getty Images)
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The money from the Oprah Winfrey Foundation will transform two schools in Nigeria, sponsored by Ejiofor and Oyelowo, providing children with the proper learning supplies (computers, books, notebooks) and medicine. A portion of the funds will also be distributed to organizations directly working with the recovery of the rescued girls (who often come back traumatized and pregnant) from extremist group Boko Haram in Nigeria.
"I, of course, like a lot of people, was disturbed by the kidnapping of the girls in Chibok and the fact that this awful situation was very much around the idea of wanting girls in particular to not be educated," said Oyelowo. "I think that's basically an attempt at not just ruining those girl's future but Nigeria's future."
The violent acts of Boko Haram sparked a national interest including the social media movement #BringBackOurGirls. The issue of sexism and marginalization of the vulnerable captured Oyelowo's attention to want to make a difference in Nigeria where he lived for seven years.
"It's a big subject for me this," added Oyelowo. "Even in film for female directors and the way females are represented on film behind the camera. That kind of sexism is as bad as racism, but the thing about sexism is you're talking about 50 percent of the population who are being marginalized in this way. It's a hot button subject for me - the marginalization of women generally, but young girls specifically because they are still vulnerable."
While GEANCO has captured the interest of talent including Forest Whitaker and Kimora Lee Simmons, Oyelowo and Ejiofor's efforts will be be honored when they receive the Global Promise Award at the foundation's Hollywood gala on Sept. 21, hosted by ESPN's Marcellus Wiley. Benefits from the fundraiser will go towards the foundation's ultimate goal of having the largest hospital in Nigeria where they can continue to provide various medical screenings and surgeries, such as hip and knee replacements, that are otherwise unavailable to many Nigerian families.
"We're really the only hope in a certain part of Nigeria so it's really satisfying for me to go do something that no one else is doing," said GEANCO co-founder Afam Onyema who established the foundation in 2005 with his father Godwin Onyema. "I can't wait for people like Chiwetel and David to come talk to the patients and see what we're doing and what their support is helping us to do. Especially when we have a long term plan to have a world class hospital in Nigeria so that these necessary surgeries can happen all day every day in Nigeria."
The gala will be a soothing celebration after Oyelowo's possible Emmy he could take home for his performance in HBO's Nightingale. After the Oscar buzz generated from Oyelowo's performance as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Oyelowo says he's going into the Emmys with nothing but "appreciation."
"We made Nightingale as a very small independent film that we had no real idea where it would end up, but I can tell you for a fact we'd never thought it would end up on HBO and millions of people getting to actually see it let alone being nominated for awards," said Oyelowo. "Unlike with Selma where you're doing a film about Dr. King and it's a studio movie you expect and hope that the film will have a broad and far reach. This one it's flabbergasting. I'm going into the Emmys in the place of celebration."