Talking about Nigerians in Hollywood, I bet you probably didn’t know these ten Hollywood stars are of Nigerian descent.
Nigerians are not only dominating the Nollywood industry but have traversed beyond borders and are excelling even in the Hollywood industry.
In this article, we will be listing Nigerians who were presumed to be Black Americans but are actually of Nigerian descent. Some were born in Nigeria and raised overseas while some were born and raised overseas with one or both Nigerian parents.
1. Chinwetel Ejiofor:
Ejiofor was born on 10th July 1977 in Forest Gate, East London, to middle-class Nigerian parents of Igbo descent. His father, Arinze, was a doctor, and his mother, Obiajulu, was a pharmacist. His younger sister, Zain, is a CNN correspondent. His other sister Kandi is a GP doctor.
In 1988, when Ejiofor was 11, during a family trip to Nigeria for a wedding, he and his father drove to Lagos after the celebrations and their car was involved in a head-on crash with a lorry. His father was killed and Ejiofor was badly injured, receiving scars that are still visible on his forehead.
2. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje:
Akinnuoye-Agbaje was born on the 22nd of August 1967 in Islington, London, to Nigerian parents of Yoruba origin, who were students in the UK. When he was six weeks old, his biological parents gave him up to a white working-class family in Tilbury, Essex. His foster parents had at least ten African children, including Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s two sisters, living in their house at certain points. His foster father made a living as a lorry driver and struggled to support the family financially.
3. Hakeem Kae-Kazim:
Kae-Kazim was born in Lagos, Nigeria, on October 1st 1962, where he spent his early years before his family relocated to London, England. His interest in acting began with school plays and The National Youth Theatre. That was when he discovered he had “a love for theatre, for acting”. He trained at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, graduating in 1987 and was offered a space with The Royal Shakespeare Company, where he continued his classical training.
He has featured in many movies including Black November, Half of a Yellow Sun, Godzilla vs Kong etc
4. Ashley Madekwe:
Madekwe was born in South London, England on December 6th 1983, into an interracial family. Her father is Nigerian and her mother is English. She grew up on a South London council estate and attended The Brit School at age 14. She attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London where she gained a BA in acting. While attending the school, she appeared in numerous stage productions including King Henry V as Princess Katherine and Wuthering Heights as Catherine Earnshaw.
She has starred in several TV series including ‘Tell me a story, Four weddings and a Funeral’ etc.
5. Adetomiwa Edun:
Edun was born in Lagos, Nigeria in 1984 to a Nigerian financier, Olawale Edun and half-Ghanaian, half-English Amy Adwoa (née Appiah). His maternal uncle is the philosopher, cultural theorist and novelist, Kwame Anthony Appiah. His maternal grandfather was a Ghanaian lawyer, diplomat and politician, Joseph Emmanuel Appiah – a Nana of the Ashanti people. Edun is a descendant of Ghanaian warrior emperor Osei Tutu.
He has starred in some movies and TV series including ‘What happened to Monday, Banana island ghost, A discovery of Witches – series’ etc.
6. Uzo Aduba:
Uzo Aduba was born on February 10, 1981 in Boston, Massachusetts, to parents from Nigeria. She grew up in Medfield, Massachusetts. She graduated from Medfield High School in 1999. She attended Boston University, where she studied classical voice and competed in track and field. She has called her family a “sports family”. Her younger brother, Obi, played hockey at the University of Massachusetts Amherst for six seasons professionally.
7. Dayo Okeniyi:
Dayo was born on June 14, 1988 in Jos and grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, with four siblings. 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 later moved to California. He earned a bachelor’s degree in visual communications at Anderson University (Indiana) in 2009.
Prior to being cast in The Hunger Games, Okeniyi worked in local theatre and in film shorts. Okeniyi starred 2014 in the drama film Endless Love, also portrayed Danny Dyson in the 2015 film Terminator Genisys and starred in the NBC series Shades of Blue. Okeniyi is set to appear in the film Fresh, which is scheduled to screen at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival.
8. Caroline Chikezie:
Caroline was born on February 19, 1974 in England to Nigerian parents of Igbo origin. At 14, she was sent to a boarding school in Nigeria, in an attempt to make her abandon her dreams of becoming an actress. Before this, she had attended weekend classes at Italia Conti. On her return to the United Kingdom, she enrolled into Brunel University, where she studied Medicinal Chemistry (she was expected to take over her father’s hospital in Nigeria), but dropped out of school. She later won a scholarship to the UK’s Academy of Live and Recorded Arts.
9. John Boyega
John Boyega, with the full name John Adebayo Bamidele Adegboyega, was born on the 17th of March 1992 in the Camberwell district of London and grew up in Peckham. His parents, Abigail and Samson Adegboyega (a Pentecostal minister) are both of Nigerian descent. He has two older sisters Grace and Blessing.
His first acting role was as a leopard in a play at Oliver Goldsmith Primary School. While in another play at age nine, he was noticed by Teresa Early, the artistic director of Theatre Peckham, a learning theatre for young people who live in south London. He spent his time there outside school hours from ages nine to fourteen.
He has starred in several movies including Starwars, Half of a yellow Sun etc.
10. Olurotimi Akinosho:
Olurotimi Akinosho was born on November 30, 1988. Known professionally as Rotimi, he is an American actor, singer, and model. He is known for his role as Darius Morrison on the Starz series Boss, and as Andre Coleman on Power.
Rotimi was born in Maplewood, New Jersey, to Nigerian parents; his father an investment banker of Yoruba origin and his mother of Igbo origin, working for the government. He attended Columbia High School, where he was on both the varsity basketball team and the choir. He continued his studies at Northwestern University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Communication, with a minor in Business in 2010.