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Chiwetel Ejiofor

The celebration for Chiwetel Ejiofor’s first Oscar nomination is a family affair. The 12 Years A Slave star’s younger sister, CNN reporter Zain Asher, shared a tearful reaction to her brother’s exciting news during an on-air interview Thursday.

“Honestly, I could not sleep last night. I really couldn’t,” she said. “This was so emotional for me because — I’m going to try not to cry — this was a day that my family has really been hoping for and waiting for, for such a long time. Chiwetel — he’s been acting since he’s 13 years old and — oh my god! I told myself I wasn’t going to cry. I do feel so emotional now… Yesterday was very emotional for me, my mother, both of my brothers and sister.”

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She went on to say that Chiwetel has “worked so hard for this.”

“Growing up with him he was always in his bedroom practicing Shakespeare lines and writing Shakespeare on the wall. I would go out with my friends and I would come home and in the morning he would be reciting Measure for Measure and in the evening it would be Othello,” she said.

“He’s someone who’s really dedicated and an actor’s actor,” she continued. “He’s been acting for over 20 years, and so to finally see recognition for his work — I can’t even describe the feeling.”

The 36-year-old English film star released a statement following his nomination, where he thanked Solomon Northup for sharing his story and the film’s cast for the life-changing experience.

“At no point during filming, in the sweltering heat of New Orleans, did any of us ever foresee the journey this film would take us all on. Steve McQueen created an entire family to tell one man’s tale and I am delighted that so many of this family have also been recognized today,” Chiwetel wrote. “I am hugely grateful to the Academy for this great honour, and, of course, to Solomon Northup for sharing his story through his breathtaking book.”

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Asher revealed that her big brother has a few jitters for the big day on March 2.

“When we spoke last night he was a little bit nervous because there were just so many amazing people nominated this year,” she said. “There’s so many amazing actors and so he’s in good company.”

The slavery drama received a total of nine nominations for this year’s Academy Awards.

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Chiwetel Ejiofor’s CNN Reporter Sister Cries Happy Tears Over His Oscar Nomination  was originally published on