In 1825, Ira Frederick Aldridge made history as not only the first black man to play a role in a Shakespeare play but the first black man to play the coveted role of Othello, This began an exciting career for the 17-year-old who decided to leave his home in the USA to pursue his dreams.
Ira Frederick Aldridge was born on July 24, 1807, to Daniel Aldridge and Luranah Aldridge. His parents were free African Americans who lived in New York where his father worked as a preacher man. Ira gained good house training and his parents had dreams of him becoming a clerk and later walking in his father’s footsteps as a clergyman.
However, Aldridge became one of the highest-paid actors in the world at a time when black roles – such as Othello – were played by white men with blackened skin.
He went on to establish himself as a formidable Shakespearean actor throughout Europe.