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Popular Hollywood Actors/Actresses Who have Nigerian backgrounds



There is a popular saying that “Naija no dey carry last”, and in Hollywood – the biggest movie industry in the world – Nigerians, half Nigerians, and/or people with Nigerian backgrounds, etc., are leaving their marks and making huge differences on screens around the world.

We have curated the 15 most popular ones. Enjoy, share.

  1. Chiwetel Ejiofor

In 1988, Chiwetel and his father were driving to Lagos when their car was involved in a head-on crash with a lorry. His father was killed, and he was badly injured. That did not stop the star from pursuing his acting dreams and today, he has featured in movies like 12 Years a Slave, The Martian, Salt, and Doctor Strange. For 12 Years a Slave, he received Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominations, along with the BAFTA Award for Best Actor. For his services to the arts, he was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2015.

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dr Strange

Chiwetel Ejiofor, Benedict Cumberbatch, Dr Strange
  1. Uzo Aduba

Uzoamaka Aduba was born in Boston, February 1981 to Nigerian parents of Igbo origin. She is best known for her role as Suzzane “Crazy Eyes” Warren in the Netflix series Orange is the new Black. She is one of only two actors to win an Emmy award in both the comedy and drama categories for the same role.

Uzo Aduba, Crazy Eyes, Orange is the new black
Uzo Aduba, Crazy Eyes, Orange is the new black
  1. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Adewale is an English American actor of Yoruba descent. Born 22 August 1967, the former model has a Law degree from King’s College London and a Masters in Law from the University of London. When he was six weeks old, his biological (Nigerian student) parents gave him up to a white working-class family in Tilbury. He returned to his parents in Nigeria when he was eight years old, 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. Today, the veteran actor is best known for his roles as Lock-Nah in the The Mummy Returns, Mr. Eko in Lostand most recently, Killer Croc in Suicide Squad.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kit Harrington, Pompei

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Kit Harrington, Pompei
  1. David Oyelowo

David Oyetokunbo Oyelowo is a British Nigerian actor and producer. He was born in Oxford, England to Nigerian parents of Yoruba ethnicity. When he was six, he moved to Lagos with his family, and attended a Military-style Secondary School. They returned to London when he was 14, and settled in Islington. His highest profile role so far is as Martin Luther King Jr. in the American biographical drama film Selma. He also took a lead role as a chess coach in Queen of Katwe, and a supporting role in Planet of Apes.

David Oyelowo, Martin Luther King, Selma

David Oyelowo, Martin Luther King, Selma
  1. John Boyega

John Boyega was born in Peckham, London, on the 17th of March, 1992. His parents are British Nigerians of Yoruba origin – Ogun and Oyo states. His acting career kicked off in the 2011 movie – Attack The Block and he has since starred in other flicks like Half of a Yellow Sun, the film adaptation of the Chimamanda book, Imperial Dreams and Detroit. He is best known for his role as Finn in the 2015 film Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

John Boyega, Star Wars
John Boyega, Star Wars Premiere
  1. Carmen Ejogo

Carmen Elizabeth Ejogo is a British actress and singer born on the 22nd of October 1973. Her parents are Elizabeth – a Scottish woman – and Charles Ejogo – a Nigerian of Igbo descent. Her film credits include Alex Cross (2012), The Purge: Anarchy (2014), It Comes at Night (2017), and Alien: Covenant (2017). She is also known for her role as Seraphina Picquery in the J. K. Rowling film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

Carmen Ejogo, Seraphina Picquery, Fantastic Beasts and where to find them

Carmen Ejogo, Seraphina Picquery, Fantastic Beasts and where to find them
  1. Nonso Anozie

Chukwunonso Nwachukwu Anozie was born in London, 1979, to Nigerian parents of Igbo descent. He has worked on stage, film and television and is popular for his role as Xaro Xhoan Daxos in Game of Thrones. He has also featured in other movies like Conan the Barbarian, Jack Ryan, RocknRolla, Enders game, etc.

Nonso Anozie, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Daenerys, Game of Thrones

Nonso Anozie, Xaro Xhoan Daxos, Daenerys, Game of Thrones
  1. Toks Oladunjoye

Olatokunbo Susan Abeke was born in Lagos, 1975. Her mother is Norwegian, while her father is Nigerian. As a youth, she was educated in Nigeria, Switzerland, and England. She then received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in theatre from Smith College, Massachusetts. She is best known for her role as Hayley Shipton in Castleand Jackie Joyner-Kersee in the ABC TV sitcom The Neighbors.

Toks Oladunjoye, Haley Shipton, Castle

Toks Oladunjoye, Haley Shipton, Castle
  1. Hugo Weaving

While Hugo Weaving’s parents are both English, he was born in Nigeria – Ibadan precisely. So, technically, the star best known for playing Agent Smith in the Matrix trilogy (1999–2003), Elrond in The Lord of the Rings (2001–2003) and The Hobbit (2012–2014) film trilogies, is a Nigerian by birth.

Hugo Weaving, Elrond, The Hobbit

Hugo Weaving, Elrond, The Hobbit
  1. Ashley Madekwe

Born in December 1983, Ashley is an English Actress, known for her role as call girl Bambi in the ITV2 series Secret Diary of a Call Girl, social climber Ashley Davenport on the ABC drama series Revenge and the witch Tituba in the WGN America series Salem. She was born in East London to a Nigerian father and Swiss mother.

Ashley Madekwe, Bambi

Ashley Madekwe, Bambi, Secret life of a call girl
  1. Sophie Okonedo

We feel some type of way claiming Sophie, because her Nigerian father abandoned her and her family when she was 5 years old. Her Jewish mother had to raise her alone, in relative poverty. Anyways, she overcame all these and began her film career in 1991 in the British drama Young Soul Rebel. She gained popularity for her role as Tatiana Rusesabagina in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda and has starred in big movies like The Secret Life of Bees, After Earth, etc.

Sophie Okonedo, Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda
Sophie Okonedo, Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda
  1. Caroline Chikezie

Caroline was born in England, 1974. When she was younger, her parents sent her back to a boarding school in Nigeria. This was in an attempt to make her quit acting and someday take over her father’s hospital in Nigeria, but she left the school because her lecturers thought the academic life wasn’t for her. She later won a scholarship to the Academy of Live and Recorded Arts and today she is best known for her roles as Sasha Williams in As If, and the Cyberwoman in Torchwood.

Caroline Chikezie, Cyberwoman

Caroline Chikezie, Cyberwoman, Torchwood
  1. Dayo Okeniyi

Dayo was born in Jos and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria. His father is a retired customs officer from Nigeria, and his mother is a literature teacher from Kenya. In 2003, he moved with his family to Indiana, United States, and earned a bachelor’s degree in visual communications at Anderson University (Indiana) in 2009.

Tresh, Hunger Games

Dayo Okeniyi, Tresh, Hunger Games

Prior to playing the role of Tresh in The Hunger Games, Dayo worked in local theatre and in film shorts. He also starred in the 2014 drama film Endless Love, also portrayed Danny Dyson in the 2015 film Terminator Genisys.

  1. Hakeem Kae Kazeem

Kae-Kazim was born in Lagos, Nigeria, 1962, and spent his early years there before his family re-located to London, England. He is best known for his work in the Starz television series Black Sails and his portrayal of Georges Rutaganda in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda.

Hakeem Kae Kazeem and Don Cheadle, Hotel Rwanda
Hakeem Kae Kazeem and Don Cheadle in Hotel Rwanda
  1. Rotimi

Olurotimi Akinosho was born in Maplewood, New Jersey, 1988. His father is an investment banker of Yoruba origin and his mother a government worker of Igbo origin. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts, and is best known for his role as Darius Morrison on the Starz Network’s Boss, and Andre Coleman in Power. He is also a singer and model.

Rotimi, Fifty Cent, Ghost of Power

Rotimi, Fifty Cent, Ghost of Power

Credit: List NG

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