David Oyelowo
Oyelowo stars alongside Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o in Mira Nair's movie Queen of Katwe Christopher Polk / Getty

British actor David Oyelowo paid tribute to his Nigerian ancestors, for helping to put the "great" in Great Britain as he was received his OBE. The United Kingdom star was honoured by the Duke of Cambridge in a ceremony held at the Buckingham palace on Tuesday (11 October) for his for services to acting.

The multiple award-winning, who become the first black actor to play a king when he performed in the Royal Shakespeare Company's Henry VI in 2001, has taken Hollywood by storm in recent years with stand-out roles in The Last King Of Scotland, Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes and lead in Ava Duvernay's Selma as Dr Martin Luther Jr.

He told AP: "Being of Nigerian descent and Nigeria having been a colony, my country of origin, its resources and its people have contributed to the 'Great' in Great Britain and so, for me, to be honoured by Great Britain is something I value because of the contribution in terms of my African heritage."

The father-of-four added: "I am here accepting the award because I am proud of the acknowledgement and I am proud to be British. Every country has good and bad parts of its history, but the fact is that Britain is a country I am proud to be a citizen of."

Earlier in October, Oyelowo − who previously admitted that he had to leave the UK for America to find opportunities as an actor − called for diversity in film, insisting that action must be taken if change was to happen.

Speaking at the British Film Institute's (BFI) Black Star Symposium he said: "Don't pat yourself on the back because you made that black drama. Bully for you! That's not diversity, my friend."

He continued: "It's got to be baked into the foundation of where the ideas flow from, you have to change the demographics of the people making the decisions. I don't think I was saying anything that the actors that are affected by what I was talking about don't know.

Oyelowo stars alongside Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o in Mira Nair's movie Queen of Katwe about a young Ugandan chess champion . "A film like this is doing diversity, I think the LFF is doing diversity. When a year like this, when you have a lot of films featuring people of colour and female directors, isn't an anomaly, we will see the world we live in reflected to us."