Many of us are probably familiar with Hollywood names like David Oyelowo (Selma, A United Kingdom), Chiwetel Ejiofor (2012, Half of a Yellow Sun), John Boyega (Star Wars, The Woman King), Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black), etc. However, there are many more that you never would have guessed. For some, their names would be an obvious giveaway, but you probably only know them by the characters they play on TV. Here are six of your favourite Hollywood actors who are Nigerian!
You might know her from her powerful portrayal of Harriet Tubman in ‘Harriet’ or her role as Belle in ‘Widows’ alongside Viola Davis. Born in London to Nigerian parents, Cynthia is an Emmy-nominated singer and actress. She honed her talent at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art after quitting a music psychology degree. Cynthia earned an Academy Award nomination for her outstanding performance as Harriet Tubman and also wowed audiences with her singing prowess, earning a Best Original Song nomination for ‘Stand Up.’
If you’re a ‘Merlin’ fan, you’ll recognise him as Sir Elyan, Lady Gwen’s brother. Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Adetomiwa moved to London at the age of 11. His acting career skyrocketed when he became the second black actor to play Romeo at the Globe Theatre. He continued to impress with roles in ‘Law & Order: U.K.,’ ‘Bates Motel,’ ‘Lucifer,’ and more. He even voiced the character of Alex Hunter in the FIFA video game series!
Starring alongside Cynthia Erivo in ‘Widows’ and playing Eliza in ’12 Years a Slave,’ Adepero has left a lasting mark in Hollywood. Born in Brooklyn, New York City, to Nigerian parents, Adepero’s acting journey started with the award-winning short film ‘Pariah,’ directed by Dee Rees. She has since made guest appearances on shows like ‘Louie’ and ‘Law & Order.’
You may remember her as Lydia Bates in ‘Quantico’ or Aya Al Rashid in ‘The Originals.’ Tracy was born in England to Nigerian parents and pursued her passion for acting despite her father’s initial wish for her to finish her education. She graduated with honours from The Royal Central School of Speech & Drama and later starred in various TV shows, including ‘Dr. Who’ and ‘Strike Back: Vengeance.’
If you’re a fan of ‘The Wire,’ you definitely know Chris Partlow, played by Gbenga Akinnagbe. Born in Washington, D.C., to Nigerian parents and raised in Maryland, Gbenga is an accomplished actor and an aspiring writer. He has starred in films like ‘The Savages and ‘The Taking of Pelham One Two Three’ and has even been published in The New York Times.
Though not as widely recognised yet, Martins is making waves with his role as bartender Will Mondrich in the popular Netflix series ‘Bridgerton.’ A British-Nigerian actor, Martins earned an Ian Charleson Award nomination for his performance in the 2018 production of ‘Richard II.’ Raised in south-east London, Martins has already made a mark in the theatre world.