Daniel Kaluuya arrived on the red carpet at Sunday’s BAFTAs, leading the way in terms of elevated menswear. His navy blue overcoat, grabbed fresh from Prada’s A/W 2022 men’s collection, features bands of cobalt blue fur around the elbows and the bottom of the jacket. Daniel’s always been a sharp dressed figure on the red carpet, experimenting with different cuts, colours and textures within a traditional men’s suit. This BAFTA look, however, bucks tradition, carving out a different silhouette. It’s something you wear when you want to be noticed – for better of worse.
Daniel surfaces on the carpet after being in the headlines last week after Page Six published a piece claiming his friends and family are worried he’s being controlled now that he’s fired his representation. That includes his team at CAA (which has confirmed they’ve parted ways), his publicists, stylist, and multiple assistants on the advice of a charismatic “life strategist”. He does however maintain his manager and reps in the UK. The new strategist goes by Heir Holiness and describes herself as “Head Mistress for The International Alma Mater, Blessed University”. My favourite part? She describes herself as “just a spiritual gangster serving a life sentence in a human body”. It sounds more like a plot for Daniel’s next movie, as opposed to his real life, but he wouldn’t be the first Hollywood star to seek the advice of a spiritual “guru”. Daniel’s said to have met Heir while filming Black Panther in 2018. But last summer she started taking over his life as his personal manager. During that time Daniel was shooting Jordan Peele’s upcoming horror Nope, where multiple “blow-ups” left production afraid of her and afraid of the influence she had on Daniel.
However, when Page Six reached out to Heir Holiness for comment (as ridiculous as that sentence sounds) she denied working with Daniel and said they have only met a few times, adding that she would love to work with him. But Page Six has photos of them cuddling on a hot air balloon ride and celebrating his birthday last month at a bash hosted by Damson Idris. I don’t know about you, but I would need to meet someone more than a few times before I let hot air take us up into the sky.
People do fire their teams and go in a new direction. It just usually doesn’t happen after sweeping the SAGs, Golden Globes, BAFTAs, and Academy Awards as Daniel did in 2021. Maybe he wasn’t seeing the results he wanted in terms of riding that momentum, but it is troubling to hear he may be isolating himself from his family. Just a year ago he was on stage at the Oscars thanking God for “guidance and protection” and his mom for pouring “everything” into him. What a difference a year makes. Daniel was already said to have been receiving weekly spiritual healing from Holiness at the time, but as we know from previous “guru” tales, the horror stories of manipulation develop over time. Daniel’s mom actually watched him accept the Oscar via satellite feed in London, where she sat next to Daniel’s sister, hilariously missing her son’s “my mom met my dad, they had sex” quip at the tale end of his speech.
Page Six reports Daniel “put the Academy through the ringer”, desperately trying to get them to get his mom a visa waiver to fly to Hollywood for the COVID-era ceremony. Despite Oscars producer, Steven Soderbergh reaching out to the US Secretary of State, it couldn’t happen and sources say he blamed a lot of people around him for this. Maybe that’s the reason why he fired everyone.
His stylist was fired too, but some celebrities change stylists faster than fashion trends change. And maybe his new stylist just wanted to try something different for the BAFTAs. His look is clearly making a statement, I just don’t know what exactly he’s trying to say yet. Is it, Heir Holiness is managing my life and I’m doing better than ever? Or is he flipping the finger to these rumours by asking do I look like I man who’s not in control on my life?
On Friday, the Oscars announced Daniel as a presenter for the Academy Awards at the end of the month. I wonder what he’ll wear.