Many can’t argue the fact that Nigerians are among the most talented people on the face of the earth. Scattered across the globe, they have proven adept in their various fields of endeavors, showing that despite the negative things that are often attributed to them, they are capable of doing good things too.
Hollywood has never lacked for black actors, and among some of these are Nigerians who are doing very well as they continue to distinguish themselves in the industry.
TalkGlitz.tv has compiled a list of some of these individuals you may not know are of Nigerian origin. Some will come as a surprise, others will not. One thing they all have in common is that they have made a name for themselves in Hollywood.
If you are a Star Wars fan, the name John Boyega will definitely ring a bell as he played the character of Finn, one of the friends of the protagonist, Rey (Daisy Ridley).
While most people know him as John Boyega, not everyone knows that this talented British star’s real name is John Adedayo Bamidele Adegboyega.
Born in the Peckham district of London on March 17, 1992, he is the son of Samson Adegboyega (a Pentecostal minister) and Abigail Aboderin. His parents are both of Nigerian descent.
At the age of nine, John was noticed by Teresa Early, the artistic director of Theatre Peckham (a learning theatre for young people living in South London).
John spent his time at the aforementioned theatre outside school hours. His father wanted him to become a minister like himself but was supportive of his theatrical venture.
The life of this young man changed when he was offered a role in the 2011 film Attack the Block, about a group of juvenile delinquents who are forced to defend their neighborhood when aliens attack it.
John received critical praise for his portrayal of Moses, the leader of the gang of teens in the movie, and since then it has been a steady rise to the top in his movie career.
He got further recognition when he joined Star Wars: The Force Awakens in April 2014 and critics praised him for his performance.
John reprised the role of Finn in the two Star Wars sequels, something which established him a bonafide megastar.
While he was raised in the United Kingdom, John identifies with his Nigerian origin and wore an Agbada to the premiere of Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker.
His involvement in the Black Lives Matter protest in the UK made him win over more fans, showing his selflessness as well.
In the 2020 Powerlist, John was named in the Top Most Influential People in the UK of African/African-Caribbean descent.
This amazing singer and actress was born Cynthia Onyedinmanasu Chinasaokwu Erivo to Nigerian parents in Stockwell, South London.
Trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, she first appeared in roles on British television programs such as Chewing Gum and The Tunnel.
Cynthia made her Broadway debut in the 2015 Broadway revival of the Menier Chocolate Factory production of The Color Purple. Among other awards for her performance, she won the 2016 Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical.
In 2018, she was part of the ensemble cast of Drew Goddard’s Bad Times at the El Royale, where she put her unrivaled vocal prowess on display in the role pf a down-on-her-luck singer looking for a big break.
Cynthia played the titular character in Harriet (2019), a biographical film about American abolitionist Harriet Tubman. Her performance earned her a nomination for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture.
With several roles in upcoming movie projects, this actress shows no signs of slowing down as she continues to take Hollywood by storm.
Few have made the kind of impact that actor Chiwetel Ejiofor has made in the international movie scene.
This Nigerian-born British actor and filmmaker is perhaps best known for bringing the Marvel antagonist Baron Mordo to life in the superhero movie Doctor Strange.
Born on July 10, 1977, Chiwetel’s foray into Hollywood began when he was just 19 years old. After enrolling in the National Youth Theatre in 1995 and attending the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, he was cast by acclaimed director Steven Spielberg to play a supporting role in Amistad (1997).
He went on to feature in several other notable films, taking on the role of Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave (2013). His performance as the black slave earned him rave reviews from critics, and he received an Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations, along with the BAFTA Award for Best Actor.
Other major projects he has starred in include The Martian (2015), Doctor Strange (2016), The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind (2019), Maleficent: Mistress of Evil (2019), and The Lion King (2019).
His most recent film is The Old Guard (2020) in which he stars opposite Charlize Theron.
Known professionally as David Oyelowo, this English-American actor and producer is a Nigerian by birth whose middle name is Oyetokunbo.
His highest-profile role to date was as Martin Luther King Jr. in the 2014 biographical drama film Selma.
David was born in Oxford, Oxfordshire, England to Nigerian parents. His father is from Oyo State, Western Nigeria, while his mother is from Edo State, Southern Nigeria.
He grew up in South London until he was six when his family moved to Lagos, Nigeria, where his father worked for the national airline and his mother for a railway company. His family returned to London when he was fourteen.
David began his stage career in 1999 when he was offered a season with the Royal Shakespeare Company, playing roles in Ben Jonson’s Volpone and Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra.
He is also known for playing MI5 officer Danny Hunter on the British drama series Spooks from 2002 to 2004.
David’s talent opened doors for him and he got further movie roles, including the lead role in A United Kingdom, the role of a chess coach in Disney’s Queen of Katwe (2016), and supporting roles in the films Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011), Lincoln (2012), Jack Reacher (2012), and The Butler (2013).
He is an Omoba (or prince) of the kingdom of Awe, Nigeria, a part of the Nigerian chieftaincy system.
This pretty lady is a theatre and television actress, the daughter of Joan, a Jewish pilates teacher, and Henry Okonedo, a British Nigerian.
Sophie was raised in the Chalkhill Estate, part of the Wembley Park district in the London Borough of Brent.
She trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and has worked in a variety of media, including film, television, theatre, and audio drama.
Sophie was nominated for an Academy Award in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her role in Hotel Rwanda (2004), and nominated for a Golden Globe Award for a Lead Actress in a Miniseries for her work in Tsunami: The Aftermath (2006).
Her other film roles include Aeon Flux (2005), Skin (2008), The Secret Life of Bees (2008), and Christopher Robin (2018).
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was born in Islington, London to Nigerian parents of Yoruba origin, who were students in the UK. When he was six weeks old, his parents gave him up to a white working-class family in Tilbury, Essex. His foster parents had at least ten African children (including his two sisters).
When he was eight years old, he was brought back to Nigeria but as he was unable to speak the Yoruba language and forbidden by his parents to speak English, he was returned to Tilbury shortly thereafter.
While in the university, Adewale became a model, and this led to his movie career.
His best-known acting roles have been as the convict Simon Adebisi in the 1990s HBO prison series Oz and as Mr. Eko on ABC’s Lost.
Other films in which he has acted are The Bourne Identity, The Mummy Returns, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, Thor: The Dark World, and Suicide Squad.
He made his directorial debut in 2018 with the movie Farming, about his troubled childhood. It earned the actor rave reviews from critics.
This gigantic star was born on November 17, 1978, in London, England. He is of Igbo descent.
Nonso graduated from the Central School of Speech and Drama in 2002, and in the summer of the same year, he played the title role in William Shakespeare’s King Lear, winning the Ian Charleson Award in 2004 for his performance in Othello.
He played small roles in Guy Ritchie’s film RocknRolla and in Joe Wright’s Atonement.
Nonso was introduced to worldwide audiences in 2011 when he played a close friend of Jason Momoa’s Conan in the action-adventure film Conan the Barbarian. That same year, he was cast as Xaro Xhaon Daxos in the HBO series Game of Thrones.
Since then, he has appeared in a series of major movies, which include Ender’s Game (2013), Cinderella (2015), Guava Island (2019), and Artemis Fowl (2020).
Hakeem Kae-Kazeem is a British Nigerian actor best known for his work in the Starz TV series Black Sails.
He was born in Lagos, Nigeria where he spent his early years before his family relocated to London, England. His interest in acting began in school plays and the National Youth Theatre, where he discovered he had a love for acting.
Hakeem’s role as Georges Rutaganda in the critically-acclaimed film Hotel Rwanda brought him to international attention. This made him relocate to Los Angeles as more movie roles came his way.
He went on to appear alongside Sean Astin in Slipstream, and The Front Line before starring in the successful Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Captain Jocard.
Kazeem also had a brief role in the blockbuster superhero movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
He has appeared in various television shows, including Lost, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, and Criminal Minds.
Uzoamaka Nwanneka Aduba is a Nigerian-born American actress known for her role as Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren on the Netflix original series Orange Is The New Black (2013-2019).
She was born in Boston, Massachusetts to parents who are from Nigeria. She first garnered recognition for her acting in 2003 when her performance in Translations of Xhosa earned her a nomination for a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Play.
Her other movie credits include Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip (2016), Candy Jar (2018), Beats (2019), and Really Love (2020).
Not many know that Carmen Elizabeth Ejogo (born October 22, 1973) is the daughter of a Scottish mother, Elizabeth, and a Nigerian father, Charles Ejogo.
Carmen began her career as the host of the Saturday Disney morning show from 1993 to 1995.
She is best known for her roles in such films as The Avengers (1998), Love’s Labour’s Lost (2000), Boycott (2001), and Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindewald (2018).
Carmen has also starred in the NBC crime drama series Kidnapped (2006-2007), the ABC thriller series Zero Hour (2013), and the Netflix limited series Self Made (2020).