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‘Naija’s Gift To Hollywood: Celebrities Who Are Doing Their Fatherland Proud

By Shaibu Husseini
24 October 2015   |   12:59 am
ALTHOUGH they may have been born abroad or trained elsewhere or would have even taken up citizenship of other countries, what cannot be denied is that they are born to Nigerian parents and so their colleagues here can comfortably regard them as fellow compatriots. Celebrity turns the spotlight on some Nigerian-born screen actors who are…


ALTHOUGH they may have been born abroad or trained elsewhere or would have even taken up citizenship of other countries, what cannot be denied is that they are born to Nigerian parents and so their colleagues here can comfortably regard them as fellow compatriots. Celebrity turns the spotlight on some Nigerian-born screen actors who are achieving glory for themselves and somehow for their fatherland.

Chiwetel Umeadi Ejiofor
Born to Nigerian parents, the British actor is easily the biggest Nigerian- born actor working in Hollywood. An acclaimed actor of film, television and stage with a wide range of roles in projects like ‘Othello’, ‘Amistad’, ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, ‘Talk to Me’, ‘She Hates Me’, ‘Inside Man’, ‘American Gangster’, ‘Redbelt’, ‘Serenity’, ‘Kinky Boots’ and the biopic ‘12 Years a Slave’ which earned him an Academy Award nomination for best actor in 2014, Ejiofor, a product of the National Youth Theatre of Great Britain and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, made his television debut in the thriller ‘Deadly Voyage’ (1996) and made



his first film appearance in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Amistad’ (1997).

He has since then featured in lead and supporting roles in many big-screen projects that showed his versatility as an actor. A recipient of a number of golden globe award nominations, Ejiofor who played lead in the film adaptation of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novel ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ will feature in the upcoming crime drama ‘Triple Nine’ as well as the post-apocalyptic tale ‘Z for Zachariah’ with Chris Pine and Margot Robbie. He has also signed on to play a convicted drug trafficker imprisoned in Bolivia, which is based on the 2003 book ‘Marching Powder’.

John Boyega
Nigerian-born British actor John Boyega is on a jet plane now in terms of his career. The British actor who made his feature debut as the lead in the 2011 feature Attack the Block will now be known worldwide as Finn from the Star Wars sequels. A popular blog- revealed that Boyega who featured in the screen adaptation of Chimamanda Adichie’s ‘Half of A Yellow Sun’ has become the talk of the town as the huge demand for advance tickets to Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens crashed the websites of several sellers last night, including AMC Theatres (NYSE:AMC) and Fandango. According to the blog, Boyega himself flipped over on seeing the official trailer and talked excitedly about his leading role as Finn in the latest Star Wars epic. “Finn is dope. His story is so epic. It’s a story that’s never been seen before, but it also mirrors the stories of Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. And he’s quirky and charismatic and funny. For me, he was the best character in the script…I was trained on a high incline treadmill so when it came to it, I could sprint around the desert in a leather jacket,” he enthused. Born in Peckham, London, Boyega’s other screen credits include ‘Imperial Dreams’ and ‘My Murder’.

David Oyetokunbo Oyelowo
Star of the award-winning and widely travelled film ‘Selma’, David Oyelowo is easily one of Hollywood’s most sought after talents. A classically trained stage actor who is doing well on stage and screen, Oyelowo whose performance in ‘Selma’ and in ‘Middle of Nowhere’ has received rave reviews, was born in Oxford, England, to Nigerian parents. Oyelowo graduated from the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA), and received the ‘Scholarship for Excellence’ from Nicholas Hytner in 1998. Oyelowo first impressed audiences on the stage when he starred in ‘The Suppliants’ at the Gate Theatre playing King Palasgus, for which he received the Ian Charleson award commendation.

Following this, he played the title role of Henry VI, becoming the first black actor to play an English king for the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company). The role won him The Ian Charleson Award and an Evening Standard award nomination. Oyewole has some accomplishments on television. He starred in the BAFTA-award winning series ‘Spooks/MI:5’ playing Danny Hunter. Additionally, he won the Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor and was also nominated for a BAFTA for the same role for his work on ‘Small Island’.

David also starred in the BBC 1 original television movie ‘Born Equal’ opposite Colin Firth, as well as ABC’s 2008 production of ‘A Raisin in the Sun’. David made his U.S. debut in two HBO productions—‘As You Like It’ and in the mini-series ‘Five Days’, for which he won the Satellite Award for Best Actor in a Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for his performance. He has received countless nominations and awards and he has his pouch filled with movie appearances with many including ‘The Butler’ alongside Forest Whitaker and Oprah Winfrey still at various stages of post production.

Caroline Chikezie
An actress of Igbo origin who was born and raised in London, Caroline has featured in countless Hollywood movies and TV series including ‘Aeon Flux,’ ‘Eragon,’ ‘Breaking and Entering,’ ‘The Supernatural’, ‘As If in 2001’, ‘Footballers’ Wives,’ ‘40,’ ‘Judas Kiss,’ ‘Free Fall’ and ‘Brothers and Sisters’. Star of the Nollywood film ‘Inale’ as directed by Jeta Amata and produced by Keke Bongos Ikwe, Caroline is best known for playing the role of Lisa Hallett, a member of the secret organisation of Torchwood who had been transformed into a half-human half-Cyberman in Cyberwoman’.

Sophie Okonedo
A British actress with mixed parentage but of Nigerian paternity-from Edo
State, Okonedo, who holds the prestigious award of Officer of the British Empire (OBE) is easily one of the most sought after actresses in England. Okonedo shot to limelight following her role in ‘Hotel Rwanda’. She has featured in a couple of Hollywood films and television series including ‘Ace Ventura: When nature calls’ with Jim Carrey, ‘After Earth,’ ‘Alex Rider’, ‘Operation’, ‘Storm Breaker’, ‘Dirty Pretty Things’, and ‘Martian

Ebbe Bassey
Actress, writer and producer, Ebbe Bassey who was born in the Bronx, New York and raised in Calabar is hot on stage and screen. An acting spirit with the right looks and carriage who is passionate about the profession and who is modest enough to admit that persistence has been the key to her steady rise on the acting run way, Ebbe’s first amazing experience on location was not even on a film set. Her debut was on a popular television series on ABC network, ‘NYPD Blue.’ She has moved on from there to take on other stage and screen roles including ‘Euripedes,’ MEDEA’ staged at the acclaimed Classical Theatre of Harlem, ‘Law & Order: SVU,’ ‘A Spoonful of Sugar’ which won Best Student Film at the Hollywood Black Film Festival in 2003, ‘African Booty Scratcher,’ ‘Drawn,’ and ‘The End of Winter. Born to parents whom Ebbe described as very ‘supportive’, Ebbe who is married holds several degrees in Liberal Arts/Science and Political Science. She featured prominently in Leila Djansi award winning film ‘Ties that Bind’. Her role as ‘Maa Dede’ earned a nomination at the 2012 Africa Movie Academy Awards (AMAA).