5 Nigerian-Americans Who Are Doing Great — Without ‘Yahoo Yahoo’
With the recent events of Nigerians abroad being arrested for fraud and cybercrime, the 80 con men and women arrested last week and the arrest of Obiwanne Okeke, it’s hard to switch on the television or listen to the radio and hear any good news about Nigeria or it’s citizens right now. But for every bad apple, there is a tree of perfectly good ones. Despite the current media fiasco, Nigerians are still the most successful minority in America. Currently, 29% of Americans-Nigerians over the age of 25 hold a graduate degree.
Several steps ahead of the overall US population who only have a measly 11% according to the Migration Policy Institute. A 2016 American Community Survey found that out of all American-Nigerian workers, 45% work in education services and many are professors at top universities. The final nail in the lazy fraudulent Nigerian stereotype coffin: Nigerian immigrants have a median household income of $62,351, compared to $57,617 nationally, as of 2015.
In light of these incredible statistics, The Guardian has compiled a list of five Nigerians abroad who are successful and well renowned-without the use of Yahoo Yahoo.
Pearlena Igbokwe is the first African woman to head a major US TV studio. Born in Lagos, Nigeria in the 1960s, Pearlena Igbokwe lived with her family in a village which was destroyed by bomber planes during the Nigerian Civil War. She moved to the United States at the age of six and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University and an MBA from Columbia University. Pearlena Igbowke began her entertainment career at Showtime where she held several executive positions in programming. She developed and supervised the series Dexter, Nurse Jackie, The Big C, and Masters of Sex. In 2012, Igbokwe was named executive vice president for drama development at NBC and after overseeing many successful dramas including The Blacklist, Blindspot, Chicago Med, Shades of Blue, This Is Us, Timeless, and Taken, Igbokwe was eventually named president of Universal Television, becoming the first African woman to head a major U.S. TV studio. So far she’s been recognized on The Hollywood Reporter’s list of 100 Women in Entertainment Power and named to the HRTS board of directors in 2017. She also joined the NATPE board that same year.
Born on January 6, 1972 as Ndubisi Ezerioha, “Bisi Ezerioha” is a Nigerian-American engineer, professional race car driver, entrepreneur and engine builder. Being born to two scientists, he was enrolled into Anambra State University of Technology at the ripe age of 15. He studied petrochemical engineering which came as a surprise to no one, but his sudden veer into race car driving did. Bisi Ezerioha, a chemical engineering graduate, is now the current founder, CEO and Chief Engineer for Bisimoto Engineering. Ezerioha is involved in import drag racing and races himself. He pilots a 2006 Honda Insight in the pro stock ranks of IDRA, IDRC and CMI series. He’s currently sponsored by big names like Outback Steakhouse and PurOl lubricants. For every race since 1997, Ezerioha has left with at least one win, his biggest achievement being six consecutive wins in 2003 and 2008. His automotive creations have appeared in numerous films, television shows, toys and video games. He’s been featured in Autoweek, Examiner, TopGear, Autoblog and is currently working with Honda.
Oladapo Fagbenle was born on February 12, 1986 in Lagos. Professionally known as Daps, he is a Nigerian born British artist, video director, and former NCAA athlete. After playing basketball in London, then Connecticut, he graduated from Campbell University North Carolina with a Bachelor’s Degree. Daps began his career within the media industry as a video producer in New York and London then later chose to become a music video director. In 2016 he directed the video for Migos’s single “Bad and Boujee” which went on to become a US number 1 and generated hundreds of millions of views. He’s proven to not be a one-hit-wonder, he’s directed music videos for the creme de la creme of the world. Recording artists like Stormzy, Iggy Azalea, Kendrick Lamar, Willie xo, Wizkid, 2 Chainz and Davido. It seems success is a family trait as Daps is also the brother of British actor, O. T. Fagbenle, video producer, Luti Fagbenle, and basketball player Temi Fagbenle. Daps currently resides in Los Angeles, California.
You probably never guessed that the director behind critically acclaimed Dope was Nigerian. Brought up in LA with his immigrant parents Rick Famuyiwa attended the University of Southern California and double-majored in cinematic arts film & television production and cinematic arts critical studies. His first feature film, The Wood was produced for an estimated cost of $6 million and went on to gross a strapping $25 million at the box office in the United States alone. His following films have garnered similar success. His films Brown Sugar, Talk to Me, Our Family Wedding and Dope have won him several awards including a nomination for Best Director by The Black Reel Awards, two nominations for Outstanding Motion Picture from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards and an Outstanding Motion Picture win by the NAACP Image Awards in 2008. After briefly being the director for The Flash, Famuyiwa moved on to other projects and is currently the director for the popular upcoming Children of Blood and Bone film adaptation.
At 22, Nigerian-American rapper Jane Chika Oranika professionally known as Chika is one of the youngest on this list but is probably the most renowned. This Alabama born and raised Nigerian got her first big break last year on Twitter when a series of her response raps to J. Cole’s 1985 and Kanye West’s Jesus Walks, garnered 1.4 million and 5 million views respectively. Chika now has 820,000 followers on Twitter. Her first single, No Squares dropped earlier this year and she was given her first gig: the prestigious Afropunk festival that attracts 60,000 attendees every year. After being interviewed by TIME, signing a deal with Calvin Klein and being featured on Hulu’s I Love You America, it seems the only way for this body positivity activist is up.