The gala will be held Jan. 3 at the Palm Springs Convention center, hosted by Mary Hart. The fest runs Jan. 2-12.
Oyelowo is being feted for his performance as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Ava DuVernay’s “Selma.” The film, which is garnering Oscar buzz, follows the three-month period in 1965 when King led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
“David Oyelowo’s transformation into Mr. Martin Luther King Jr. is truly outstanding,” said fest chairman Harold Matzner in a statement. “He perfectly re-creates King’s mannerisms and speech cadence, and moreover, captures the spirit of one of the greatest leaders in history, giving audiences a rewarding portrait of this iconic man that is deeply layered and effecting. For this phenomenal portrayal it is an honor to present him with the 2015 Breakthrough Performance Award, Actor.”
Previously announced honorees at this year’s fest include Julianne Moore, Richard Linklater, Eddie Redmayne, Rosamund Pike, Reese Witherspoon, J.K. Simmons and the cast of “The Imitation Game.”
In past years, Lupita Nyong’o, Marion Cotillard, Felicity Huffman, Carey Mulligan, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Hudson have received the award. Cotillard, Hudson and Nyong’o would receive Oscars in the same year they were honored by PSIFF, with Huffman and Renner receiving nominations.
This year, Oyelowo has also appeared in “A Most Violent Year,” “Interstellar” and “Default.”