-stars with Nigerian roots making waves in the big league
Hollywood, arguably the world’s finest movie industry and the darling of the movie world, is where everyone dreams of being a part of! Some thespians, born either in Nigeria or to Nigerian parents abroad, are living this dream as they rub shoulders with the very best…
Born David Oyetokunbo Oyelowo, in Oxford, England to Nigerian parents on April 1, 1976. He is a classically-trained actor, writer, director and has been active since 1998.
Oyelowo, an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) and has played supporting roles in the films such as Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Middle of Nowhere (2012), Lincoln (2012), and The Butler (2013). Oyelowo, a devout Christian, played Dr Martin Luther King in the flick ‘Selma’ (2014) which drew rave reviews. Speaking on the role, he said, “I always knew that in order to play Dr. King, I had to have God flow through me because when you see Dr. King giving those speeches, you see that he is moving in his anointing.”
In 2014, he bagged nominations at the Primetime Emmy Award as Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Movie, and for Best Actor in a Miniseries or TV Film at the Golden Globe Awards, as well as others.
In August 2015, he was asked by Ian Fleming’s estate to voice James Bond in the audio book of new Bond novel, Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz – making him the first black actor to play Bond, though only heard and not seen. He is married to Jessica and together they have four kids.
Full name, Uzoamaka Nwanneka Aduba, she was born in Boston, Massachusetts, USA to Nigerian parents on February 10, 1981. The 34-year-old can rightly be regarded as a top actress in Hollywood after clinching two Primetime Emmy Awards, one Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series and a nomination at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards for her role as Suzanne Crazy Eyes Warren in the hit series, Orange is the New Black – making her the first actress to win Emmy Award recognition in both the comedy and drama genres for the same role.
Uzo, who describes her family as a “sports family” and was a track and field athlete in university, started her career on stage and began getting recognition for her talent in 2003, when she got a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play for her performance in Translations of Xhosa at the Olney Theatre Centre for the Arts, Maryland.
The Boston University graduate of classical voice made her Broadway debut in 2007 portraying Toby in Coram Boy before making her first television appearance as a nurse on Blue Bloods in 2012. Her big break came in 2013, when Aduba began portraying Suzanne Crazy Eyes Warren in the Netflix comedy-drama series Orange Is the New Black.
Uzo is very private about her personal life, and not much is known about it.
Sophie is the daughter of a Nigerian father and a white British-Jewish mother. She was born in London, England on August 11, 1968. Her parents split up when she was very young (about five) and she was raised by her single mother.
She trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, and has worked in a variety of media including film, television, theatre and audio drama. She was a respected stage actress before her breakout role in the big screen as Tatiana Rusesabagina in Hotel Rwanda (2004) which earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Her Oscar nod brought her much fame, and she went on to co-star in big-budget films like Stormbreaker (2006).
Sophie, who identifies as Jewish, has also bagged a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a TV mini-series or movie for her role in HBO’s ‘Tsunami: The Aftermath’.
The Broadway star has played alongside the likes of Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Alicia Keys, Dakota Fanning, Sam Neill and Alice Krige. She portrayed Winnie Mandela in the BBC drama Mrs. Mandela. Sophie, an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE), lives in Muswell Hill, London, England with her daughter (Aoife) whom she calls an “Irish, Nigerian Jew”. In her words, “I feel as proud to be Jewish as I feel to be black”.
Chiwetelu Umeadi Ejiofor born July 10, 1977, to Nigerian parents in London, England is a British Academy Film Awards winner; as well as a Golden Globe Awards, Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards, Primetime Emmy Awards and Academy Awards nominee.
His career began in 1996 when he gained a scholarship to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, but only three months into his course, he was cast by Steven Spielberg to play a supporting part in the film Amistad.
He has starred alongside Mark Wahlberg, John Cusack, Thandie Newton, Kate Winslet, Lupita Nyong’o, Casey Affleck, Morgan Freeman, Angel Coulby (of ‘Merlin’ fame).
He has featured in movies such as Four Brothers (2005), ‘Serenity’ (2005), Kinky Boots (2005), Children of Men’s (2006), 2012 (2009). His role as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave (2013) earned him widespread recognition including Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations. He stars in the much-anticipated American crime-thriller, Triple 9. Chinwetel is a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).
The Peckham, London-born actor is the son of Nigerian parents, Abigail and Samson. John, born March 17, 1992, studied Film and TV at University of Greenwich, London. The 23-year-old started his career on stage after training at the Identity School of Acting in Hackney. He played the lead in a 2010 reproduction of Shakespeare’s Othello at South Thames College, Wandsworth and also appeared in Six Parties at the National Theatre and ‘Category B’ at the Tricycle Theatre.
His big break in the big screen came when he starred in Attack the Block (2011), a British science fiction comedy-horror film, alongside Jodie Whittaker.
In April 2014, it was confirmed that Boyega had been cast as a lead character in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. He played Finn, a stormtrooper for the First Order, who leaves the fascist military power after witnessing their cruelty in his first combat mission before joining the fight against them.
Lagos-born Hakeem Kae-Kazim (born October 1, 1962 to Nigerian parents) is a classically-trained actor. He trained at the highly-regarded Bristol Old Vic Theatre School and soon after graduation in 1987, was invited to join the Royal Shakespeare Company.
He also featured blockbuster films TV series like 2004 drama film Hotel Rwanda, Pirates of the Caribbean III, Lost, Cane, The Triangle, The Librarian, Law and Order, X-Men: Wolverine, and Last Flight to Abuja.
He also starred as Col. Iké Dubaku in season seven of TV series, 24 and the television movie tie-in 24: Redemption.
His distinctive voice has also been shared in many popular video games including Halo, Call of Duty and The Bourne Conspiracy.
Adewale, born August 22 1967, in Islington, London to Nigerian parents, is a British-Nigerian actor, writer, producer and former fashion model.
At only six weeks old, his parents gave him up to a white family; and by the time he was 16, he had become a violent thief, which forced his foster parents to send him to boarding school in Surrey. He later turned his life around after embracing his background, before going on to earn a Law degree from King’s College London and a Masters in Law from the University of London.
He began acting in 1994 and since featured in many top films, including The Bourne Identity, in which he played a deposed African dictator, Hitu the police officer in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, Lock-Nah in The Mummy Returns, Kurse in Marvel’s Thor: The Dark World, and Heavy Duty in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Congo and shows such as Emmy Award winning, Lost, Game of Thrones. He is Golden Globe and SAG Award winner.
Beautiful Carmen Elizabeth Ejogo was born in Kensington, England, to a Nigerian businessman and a Scottish tour guide on January 1, 1974.
The actress and vocalist began her career as a teenager in London, hosting the Saturday Disney morning show from 1993 to 1995. Her film credits include What’s the Worst That Could Happen?, Away We Go, Alex Cross, and The Purge: Anarchy.
Ejogo has appeared as civil rights activist Coretta Scott King (Dr Luther King’s wife) in two films, Boycott (2001) and Selma (2014). She has two kids from her marriage to American actor, Jeffrey Wright.
- MICHAEL NWOKIKE