Friday, 26 February 2016

13 Successful Hollywood Actors of Nigerian Descent

Being the most populous nation in Africa, with over 180 million people and counting, it shouldn't be a surprise to have Nigerians making it big all over the world. I guess the land can't contain us. Although some of the actors I am going to be listing below have never been to Nigeria before, all of them are of Nigerian descent. we go. Below is a list of 13 successful Hollywood actors of Nigerian descent.

13. Carmen Ejogo
I remember being in secondary school, and instantly falling in love with her sweet British accent when I saw her in Metro (1997), with Eddie Murphy...little did I know at the time that she had Nigerian blood in her. Carmen Ejogo was born in London to a Nigerian father, and a Scottish mother. She started out getting small roles in TV back in London in the early 90s, before making it in Hollywood before the end of that decade. Her most notable movies are- Metro (1997), Sparkle (2012), Selma (2014), and the yet to be released and highly anticipated Alien Covenant (2017).

12. Hakeem Kae-Kazim
A lot of people would be surprised with this one, cos even I was surprised when his name came up when I started the research for this article. Well, I didn't know his name, but I knew the face. Hakeem Kae-Kazim has played in a host of American TV series like- Lost, 24, and Law & Order. He has also appeared in a couple of successful box office movies like; X-Men Origins: Wolverine (2009), Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (2007), Hotel Rwanda (2004), and The Fourth Kind (2009).

Hakeem was born in Lagos on the independence day of 1962. His parents emigrated to London the following year with baby Hakeem. So, even though he was born in Nigeria to 'Egba' parents, he grew up in London, where he was classically trained at the highly regarded Bristol Old Vic (Theater and Acting School).

11. Sophie Okonedo
She is a British-Nigerian actress who has enjoyed a lot of success in Hollywood. But of cos, like the rest of the actors on this list, she has her roots in Nigeria. She was born in London; her mother is Jewish, and her father is a Nigerian. She plays a lot of emotional roles in movies, and has a long career lifespan. The Hollywood movies she has appeared in include- Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls (1995), Hotel Rwanda (2004), Aeon Flux (2005), and After Earth (2013).

10. Gbenga Akinnagbe
He is best known for his role in the American TV series, The Wire, as Chris Partlow, but he has appeared in a number of successful Hollywood movies. His filmography includes such movies like- The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009), Lottery Ticket (2010), and Edge of Darkness (2010). He was born in Washington D.C, but raised in Silver Spring, Maryland. Both his parents are Nigerians, and his a cousin to American-Nigerian rapper, Wale.

9.  Uzoamaka "Uzo" Aduba
Our very own, Crazy Eyes. One of the reasons why I fell in love with the TV series, Orange Is the New Black was the diversity of the characters in the series. As a writer myself, I know how hard the writer most have tasked her brain to come up with all those different characters. The role Uzo Aduba picked was one of hardest to pull off, and she did a fantastic job, and continues to do so with the other seasons of the series. Even though she hasn't appeared in a lot of real movies, she deserves all the accolades she is currently getting. And we anticipate her future appearances in Hollywood movies.

The 35 years old actress was born in Boston, Massachusetts (USA), and her parents are from Achi (Orji River) area in Enugu state (Eastern Nigeria).

8.  Caroline Chikezie
Caroline is another British-Nigerian actress who has managed to cross over to Hollywood. Although she was born in the U.K, her Nigerian parents sent her down to Nigeria, and put her in boarding school, probably to make her learn some African culture. She returned to London after a couple of years, and got serious with her passion for acting. The movies she is most notably known for include- Aeon Flux (2005), Eragon (2006), and The Sweeney (2012).

7.  David Oyelowo
Yet another English actor with Nigerian heritage. Asides from being an actor, he is also a writer, producer, and movie director. He was born in Oxford, London, to Nigerian parents. He studied Theater Studies at City and Islington College, in London. He has appeared in numerous Hollywood movies, including- The Last King of Scotland (2007), Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), The Help (2011), Jack Reacher (2012), Selma (2014), Interstellar (2015).

6.  Rotimi (Olurotimi Akinosho)
He is an actor, as well as a singer. He gained success recently with 50 Cent produced TV series, Power. He has appeared in movies like- Black Nativity (2013), Imperial Dreams (2014), and his biggest appearance till date, Divergent (2014).

Rotimi was born in Maplewood, New Jersey (USA) to Nigerian parents. And he is a graduate of the Northwestern University, where he studied Business Communication.

5.  Nonso Anozie
He played his part perfectly well in Game of Thrones season 2 as Xaro Xhoan Daxos. Apart from his fantastic performance in the successful TV series (Game of Thrones), he has appeared in a host of big budget Hollywood movies like- Atonement (2007), The Grey (2011), Ender's Game (2013), Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit (2013), and Cinderella (2015).

Nonso worked as a stage actor for many years in England before tasting success in Hollywood. He was born in Camden, London, to Nigerian parents. He is 36 years old.

4.  Dayo Okeniyi
I think this dude is one of the luckiest on the list. He was born in Nigeria (in Lagos) 27 years ago, and moved to U.S.A when he was 15 years old, in 2003. This means he lived most of his formative years in Nigeria. In 2012, he appeared in The Hunger Games; one of his biggest movies to date. He has appeared in other big budget Hollywood movies like- The Spectacular Now (2013), Endless Love (2014), and Terminator Genisys (2015).

3.  John Boyega
Young John Boyega is another British-Nigerian actor that was able to cross over to Hollywood. I guess the acting schools in England are really good. He was born 23 years ago to Nigerian parents, in Peckham, South London. He has been involved in one form of acting or the other since he was 9. He hasn't appeared in so many movies, but he just recently starred in the highest grossing movie ever, in the United States- Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015). Other movies he has appeared in include, Attack the Block (2011), Half of a Yellow Sun (2013), and Imperial Dreams (2014).

2.  Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje 
This guy is one of the oldest Nigerians on the Hollywood scene. He goes as way back as appearing in Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls, with Jim Carey in 1995...and as recent as Will Smith's new movie, Concussion (2015). He has a long filmography...The Mummy Returns (2001), The Bourne Identity (2002), Get Rich Or Die Tryin' (2005), G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), Faster (2010), Killer Elite (2011), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Pompeii (2014), and Annie (2015). He is also well known for his role in TV series, Lost, as Mr. Eko. He likes to use Yoruba names in movies he appears in, and also speak the language, like how he did with his character in The Bourne Identity movie.

He is another of the list of English actors that have made it big in Hollywood. He was born and raised in London, England, to a young Nigerian couple, who were students at the time. His parents brought him back to Nigeria briefly while he was 8, but he struggled to communicate with the Yoruba language, so he was returned to UK. He started out as a model in his 20s in London, before crossing over to acting.

1.  Chiwetel Ejiofor
He is arguably one of the biggest Hollywood actors of Nigerian descent. He has appeared in big budget movies like- Love Actually (2003), Four Brothers (2005), Inside Man (2006), American Gangster (2007), Redbelt (2008), 2012 (2009), Salt (2010), 12 Years a Slave (2013), and The Martian (2015).

Chiwetel Ejiofor is among the English actors that moved over to America to make it big in Hollywood. He was born 10 July, 1977, in Forest Gate, London to Nigerian parents of Igbo origin. The scar that is visible on his head was sustained during one his many family trips to Nigeria. The car he was in with his father was involved in a head-on collision with a lorry. Sadly, his father didn't survive the accident. Chiwetel was just 11 at the time.

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