- Nigerian Actors in Hollywood include famous names like David Oyelowo , Olurotimi Akinosho, Donald Faison, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, John Boyega, Tracy Ifeachor, Carmen Ejogo and many more.
In the past i have written about American celebrities that are Nigerian and i thought to myself, why not write another on Nigerian actors in Hollywood that are actually making a name for themselves.
The difference would be that while the other post is a comprehensive list of all foreign Nigerian celebrities, this particular post would concentrate on just those in Hollywood.
No musician of any kind except in cases where these musicians are also actors and are making name for themselves.
Some of these foreign Nigerian celebrities were born abroad while others traveled over to the land of possibilities to make a dream come through that would have been impossible otherwise.
There is one fact to take into consideration. These actors did not just appear in america or any other European countries by chance.
Their Nigerian parents made the trip and by giving birth to them in those countries sown the seed of greatness now seen on our television screens today.
The whole point is this, as a Nigerian with big dreams currently living in Nigeria, travelling abroad can really make a big difference.
With discipline and hard work it is possible you or someone among your descendants would make all the difference needed to make a famous name that would become a source of pride to Nigerians everywhere.
Nigerian Actors In Hollywood
1 Uzo Aduba
First on our list of Nigerian actors in Hollywood is Aduba, who was born in Boston , Massachusetts. The daughter of Nigerian parents, of Igbo origin.
She is known for her role as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes” Warren on the Netflix original series Orange Is the New Black, for which she won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2014, an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series in 2015, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series in 2014 and 2015.
Making her the first actress to win both a drama and comedy Emmy for the same role.
How she got the part.
“I auditioned for the show back in late July or early August of . I had been auditioning that summer for more television and film [after doing much theater]. I’d read a lot of scripts and I remember reading Orange Is the New Black, and it was at the head of the pack. I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that is really good, I would love to be a part of that.’ I went in and auditioned for another part, and my representatives called me about a month later and they were like, “Hi, we have some really good news. You remember that audition you went on for Orange Is the New Black? You didn’t get it.” I go, “So… okay, what’s the good news?” They said they wanted to offer me another part, Crazy Eyes. I was like, “What in my audition would make someone think I’d be right for a part called Crazy Eyes?” But to be honest, when I got the script for it, it felt like the right fit”
Her season two performance also earned her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film at the 72nd Golden Globe Awards.
2. Dayo Okeniyi
He is a Nigerian American actor, popularly known for playing the role of Thresh in The Hunger Games and Danny Dyson in Terminator Genisys.
He is the first on our list of Nigerian actors in Hollywood that actually grew up in Nigeria, there would be others on this list.
He was born in Nigeria to a now retired customs officer and a mother who is a British literature teacher and together the entire family in 2003 would move to Indiana , United States. Before entering the big screens, he worked in local theatre and in film shorts.
In an interview with Anderson’s Fifth Street Communications, he said: “I have always enjoyed performing, whether it be acting, singing, or dancing. When I initially moved to the United States, I put performing on hold because it was now time to ‘grow up and be realistic,’ but the longer I put it on hold, the more the passion festered and grew inside of me.”
He attended Anderson University (Indiana) where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in visual communications in 2009.
His success story is an inspiration that Nigerians currently in the country can make it any where in the world. Serving as an incredible fact that you could grow up in Nigeria and still go into Hollywood and be given the chance to succeed.
3. Adepero Oduye
She is known for her leading role in Pariah (2011), as well as supporting roles in 12 Years a Slave (2013) and The Big Short (2015).
Adepero Oduye was born in Brooklyn, New York, one of seven children of Nigerian parents. Although she graduated pre-med from Cornell University , she decided to pursue her passion for acting upon graduation.
And for those of us who have seen the movie 12 Years A Slave, she was also a part of that film. She was also part of the comedy-drama The Big Short, which won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.
She made her directorial debut with Breaking In.
4. Olurotimi Akinosho
known professionally as Rotimi, He is known for his role as Darius Morrison on the Starz series Boss, his first acting role as a drug dealer, and currently stars 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.
He graduated from Northwestern University where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in Communication with a minor in Business in 2010.
He got signed to G-Unit Records in 2015. Subsequently releasing his first G-Unit single “Lotto” featuring 50 Cent. In 2017 he released his first debut EP called Jeep Music Vol.1
5. Donald Faison
Faison was born in Harlem in New York City, the son of Shirley, a talent agent, and Donald Faison, a building manager. He is the elder brother of actor Olamide Faison . His middle name stems from the words “ade” (meaning “crown”) and “osun ” (meaning “river of life”) in the Yoruba tongue.
Faison has also co-starred in the films
Waiting To Exhale (1995), Remember the Titans (2000), Uptown Girls (2003),
Something New (2006), Next Day Air (2009), and Kick-Ass 2 (2013).
Faison is a father of many and has six children: son Sean, born in 1997, with ex-girlfriend Audrey Ince; boy-girl twins Dade and Kaya born in 1999, and son Kobe, born in 2001, with first wife Askey; and with second wife Cobb, a son born in 2013 and a daughter born in 2015.
6. Olamide Faison
He plays Miles Robinson on the children’s television show Sesame Street. Born in New York City, Faison joined the cast in 2003. He is the third actor to play the role, after Miles Orman and Imani Patterson.
Olamide is the youngest brother of Donald Faison, who starred in the NBC sitcom Scrubs .
7. Gbenga Akinnagbe
He is an American actor and writer, best known for his role as Chris Partlow on the HBO series
Akinnagbe was born in Washington, D.C. , the son of Nigerian parents. He was raised in Silver Spring, Maryland. And like his cousin Wale The Rapper his parents are completely Nigerian.
He attended Bucknell University on a wrestling scholarship, and graduated in 2000 with a degree in Political Science and English.
As a writer, Gbenga has had two articles published in The New York Times, one detailing a trip to Nepal to climb the Himalayas, and the other outlining the medical procedures he underwent to correct his severely flat feet
8. Chiwetel Ejiofor
Sometimes i wonder if he is the most popular on our list of Nigerian actors in Hollywood. this man right here has been fortunate to play roles in movies with big names.
Born in London to Igbo parents, the father named Arinze was a doctor (Chiwetel and his father were involved in a ghastly motor accident in Nigeria during a wedding visit that killed his father while leaving permanent scars on his face), and his mother, Obiajulu, was a pharmacist.
His film debut was through the 1996 television film Deadly Voyage and at age 19 and three months, Ejiofor was cast by Steven Spielberg to play a supporting role in the film Amistad as James Covey.
Ejiofor was awarded the Jack Tinker Award for Most Promising Newcomer at the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards in 2000. His singing and acting performance in Kinky Boots received a Golden Globe Award and British Independent Film Award nomination
In the same year, he made his directorial debut in the short film Slapper, he would be appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2008 Birthday Honours.
He would play the role of Solomon Northup in 12 Years A Slave to high praises in 2013. The film was about a New York State-born free African-American man who was kidnapped in Washington, D.C. by two con men in 1841 and sold into slavery.
The movie earned over $187 million on a production budget of $22 million.
In the animated remake of The Lion King (2019) directed by Jon Favreau, Chiwetel played the role of Scar.
On the 1st of march 2019, Ejiofor made his feature directorial debut with The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, an adaptation of William Kamkwamba memoir of the same name, about a boy who built a wind-powered water pump in Malawi.
His younger sister is CNN correspondent Zain Asher.
9. Hakeem Kae-Kazim
Another very familiar face on our list is the black and proud Hakeem Kae-Kazim. This is another Nigerian that was born in the country and later left for the Western shores in search of greener pastures and was actually lucky to find her in London.
Just like Chiwetel Ejiofor, Hakeem’s acting training began at The National Youth Theatre. He would go on to properly train in that field at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, graduating in 1987 and was offered a space with The Royal Shakespeare Company,
He is popularly known for his portrayal of Georges Rutaganda in the 2004 drama film Hotel Rwanda. Hotel Rwanda explores genocide, political corruption, and the repercussions of violence. The film was nominated for the Oscars.
He has appeared in major releases since relocating to Los Angeles from South Africa. Like the hugely successful Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End as Captain Jocard and also in the blockbuster, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
As a Voice over artist his voice has been featured in a number of well known video games including Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3, Final Fantasy XIV, Halo 3 ODST, Halo: Reach, Guild Wars, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, The Golden Compass and The Saboteur.
10. Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
He was actually the first from our list of Nigerian actors in Hollywood that got my attention. Even before the use of the internet and social media became wide spread, Adewale had already registered as a Nigerian making his name famous abroad.
As a child, at about six weeks old he was given up by his Nigerian parents of Yoruba origin who at that time were just students in the UK to a white working-class family in Tilbury, Essex so that he could have a better life than they did.
He went on to earn a Law degree from King’s College London and a Masters in Law from the University of London International Program. It was during this time that he got introduced to the idea of becoming a model.
The Black Panther was also one of those Hollywood dreams that Adewale wanted to accomplish as far back as 2009 when he went into talks with Marvel Studios to play the superhero but that coveted role was eventually given to Chadwick Boseman.
In 2016, he co-starred in the DC Comics film Suicide Squad, as the Batman villain Killer Croc.
His feature directorial debut, Farming which is about his childhood was released by Lions-gate on October 11, 2019 in the UK and by eOne on October 25, 2019 in the US. And won the Michael Powell Award at the 2019 Edinburgh Film Festival.
He is a Nichiren Buddhist and a member of the Soka Gakkai International Buddhist association.
11. Caroline Chikezie
Another celebrity born in England to Nigerian parents of Igbo origin. Her story is one of rebellion and a personal pursuit for the happiness of the self. She wanted acting as her life career but her parents would design one in the medical field for her.
That idea of making her into a full version of her parents own dream saw a young Caroline shipped back to Nigeria, to a boarding school with hopes that it would force her to abandon her dreams and instead lead her on a path that would help her take over her father’s hospital in Nigeria.
Back from Nigeria she enrolled into Brunel University where she studied Medicinal Chemistry but later dropped out. She however later won a scholarship to the UK’s Academy of Live and Recorded Arts. It seems it was her destiny after-all.
In 2018, she starred as a recurring character, Queen Tamlin of Leah in the 2nd season of Shannara Chronicles. I like that series, the costumes and all.
12. Nonso Anozie
Do you remember him, that bulky Xaro Xhoan Daxos from The Games of Thrones? I liked his character and it was nice seeing a black character in the series that wasn’t a slave. Adewale’s character in the flick as a pirate was another uplifting role.
In him we saw a typical black man with nothing that somehow managed to become the richest in the city of Qarth. Speaking to Daenerys Targaryen in regard to this fact, he said “Do you think the path from poverty to wealth is always pure and honorable? I have done many things, Khaleesi, that a righteous man would condemn. And here I am, with no regrets.“.
The big man was was born in London, England, of Igbo Nigerian descent. He graduated from the Central School of Speech and Drama in 2002.
He is the biggest in body size among all the Nigerian actors in Hollywood, with a voice and mannerism that is culturally rich, when that is the aim.
13. Adetomiwa Edun
If like myself, you watched the television show Merlin, then you should remember Sir Elyan the younger brother of Gwen.
He falls in the list of those of them born in Nigeria. Edun moved to the UK at the age of 11 and attended Eton College from the age of 13, before reading Classics at Christ’s College, Cambridge (University of Cambridge). Encouraged by his father to follow his footsteps as a financier,Edun would intern with Citigroup.
That path would however close when Edun decided to attend the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) instead of a Masters in Philosophy which he had earlier considered, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Acting in 2008.
He became only the second black actor to play Romeo at the Globe Theatre when he was cast in Dominic Dromgoole’s production of Romeo and Juliet.
14. David Oyelowo
Did you watch Selma? If you did, then as a Black man it was one hell of a movie right? The kind that awakens a fire within, allowing you realize that as a black human being the history of Black People anywhere, be it in the past or in the future is your own story as well.
That as Black people we are united by a common struggle, which is, to be truly free in this world. Little wonder it is consider the highest role on his profile as an actor.
He is that individual on our list of Nigerian actors in Hollywood who have recently through his movies given us reasons to celebrate the craft.
Born in Oxford, Oxford shire, England to Nigerian parents of Yoruba descent but moved to Lagos, Nigeria when he was six, where he would stay until he was fourteen. After which he would return back to London.
Following the advice of his teacher, Oyelowo would enroll for a year in an acting foundation course, at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). He would go on to train at the institution for three years, graduating in 1998.
He is considered the first black actor to play an English king in a major production of Shakespeare. And was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2016 New Year Honours for services to drama.
15. Sophie Okonedo
This beautiful lady is a product of a British Nigerian father who worked for the government and a Jewish mother. She was five years old when her father left the family and so was raised by her mother.
It is said that her role in the film Hotel Rwanda was the breakthrough performance of her acting career and that film got her nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress at the 77th Academy Awards in 2005.
Okonedo trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
16. John Boyega
I remember when he came to Nigeria after the success of the Pacific rim sequel and the Nigerian celebrity circle was set on fire as many wanted to shake hands with their brother making them proud oversea.
This British Nigerian who was awarded the BAFTA Rising Star Award in 2016 was brought to prominence as Moses in the 2011 sci-fi comedy film Attack the Block.
Boyega was born on 17 March 1992 in London, England, to British Nigerian parents. And like many before him with that love for acting he would drop out from University of Greenwich where he had enrolled to study BA Film Studies & Media Writing for the very reason he went in in the first place.
His own production company, Upperroom Entertainment Limited co-produced Pacific Rim: Uprising (2018), the sequel to the 2013 movie Pacific Rim, alongside Legendary Entertainment.
17. Tracy Ifeachor
She played her role quite well Aya Al-Rashid in The CW vampire series The Originals . Her first feature film was ‘Blooded’ directed by Sundance film festival winner Ed Boase.
While her theatre debut was playing the role ‘Minerva’ in the Royal Shakespeare Companys production of Noughts & Crosses directed and adapted by Dominic Cooke.
18. Ashley Madekwe
She attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London where she gained a BA in acting. She was born 6 December 1983 to a Nigerian-Swiss father and an English mother.
She starred as Tituba in the television series Salem from 2014 to 2016.
19. Carmen Ejogo
She appeared as civil rights activist Coretta Scott King in both films: Boycott (2001) and Selma (2014). And seriously, it is an honor to have her on our list of Nigerian actors in Hollywood.
She is the daughter of a Scottish mother, Elizabeth (née Douglas), and a Nigerian father, Charles Ejogo. She has married twice and divorced twice. First to Trip-hop artist Tricky and American actor Jeffrey Wright, whom she met while making the HBO film Boycott.
20. Richard Ayoade
He is the son of a Nigerian father and a Norwegian mother, an English comedian, actor, filmmaker, author and television presenter.
He attended St Catharine’s College, Cambridge (1995–98), where he won the Martin Steele Prize for play production.
21. Hope Olaide Wilson
This British Nigerian is best known for her roles in Wonderland (2019), Solace (2018) and I Can Do Bad All by Myself (2009).
As an actor she was trained at LAMDA (London Academy of Music & Dramatic Art).
22. Toks Olagundoye
This Nigerian lady is also one of those making name on the international screen. She is known for her role as Hayley Shipton in Castle and Jackie Joyner-Kersee in the ABC TV sitcom The Neighbors.
She has guest-starred on Ugly Betty, Law & Order, CSI: NY, Switched at Birth, NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service and Prime Suspect.
23. Nnamdi Asomugha
He is a former American football corner-back turn actor and producer. And is considered one of the greatest Oakland Raiders of all time.
He was named by Variety as one of the seven breakout performers of 2017. He also made his professional acting debut in 2008 on The CW Network sitcom The Game.
He worked as executive producer on the Netflix film Beasts of No Nation. On June 24, 2013, Asomugha got married to actress Kerry Washington. They have two kids together.
The only one on our list of Nigerian actors in Hollywood that is married to another American celebrity.
24. Megalyn Echikunwoke
I remember watching her as a lead in the series The 4400 and how i was in love with her beauty which of course was a mixture of biracial uniqueness.
She was born in Spokane, Washington in May 28, 1983 to Onigwe Echikunwoke, an Igbo Nigerian father (was a survivor of the Nigerian Civil War, from which he would suffer gunshot wounds that would eventually lead to liver cancer when Megalyn was just four years old) and Anita Laurie, an American of European descent.
It would also interest you to know that she starred as Nicole Palmer, daughter of David Palmer, on the Fox series 24. And recently she co-starred in the comedy Night School (2018) alongside Kevin hart and Tiffany Haddish.
Her first featured role was a guest appearance on The Steve Harvey Show in 1998.
25. Yvonne Orji
If you like movies and have watched the series Insecure then you would know this very talented American actress who was actually born here in Nigeria, Precisely Port Harcourt (where i grew up and currently reside).
She was born on 2nd December 1983 in Port Harcourt, Nigeria, and grew up in Maryland, US.
26. Annie llonzeh
She had her first major film role, playing Kidada Jones in the biographical drama All Eyez on Me, about hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur.
She was born to a Nigerian father of Igbo descent and a white mother in in Grapevine, Texas on August 23, 1983.
27. Folake Olowofoyeku
28. Onuka Okuma
She is the daughter of Nigerian politician Babatunji Olowofoyeku and Felicia Olowofoyeku. The youngest child of 20 children, who in 2001 at the age of 18 , emigrated to the United States, where she came to live with her sister.
She is among the few Nigerian actors in Hollywood that was born right here in Nigeria but was still able to gain a spot on the American acting space.
She received a B.A. in theater from City College of New York and after graduation started working in off-off-off-Broadway theater in New York City.
She has appeared in guest starring roles on television shows that include 30 Rock, How to Get Away with Murder, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Modern Family, Westworld, and White Collar.
She currently stars in the 2019 Chuck Lorre CBS sitcom, Bob Hearts Abishola.
If you are looking for a list of all of them, the long list of Nigerian celebrities doing well abroad beyond just actors then you should read the article referenced above.
This post is specifically for just Nigerian actors in Hollywood doing well for themselves and we shall be updating this post with more information regarding the topic as they emerge.